War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 190-196

So we have an analysis of this war so far offered up. Basically, the French alone were responsible for their upcoming defeat for marching straight to Moscow, where all the Russian troops apparently unwittingly convene. Tolstoy is pretty clear that skilled war strategics had nothing to do with it. He’s not one for surprises, because he’s given away the results of every war and battle so far well in advance. I don’t really have a problem with that, though. In this I kind of like to know what to expect, though in most everything else in life I prefer surprise…I wonder why that is?

So anyway, on their march to Moscow, the French are going to pass straight through the land Mary and Old Bolkonski live. Andrew has sent them a message to get the hell out of there, but everyone is so afraid of senile Old Bolkonski that they almost end up staying just because he can’t concentrate on the letter long enough to make sense of it. Andrew threatens to come and get them out himself, but the old guy finally is lucid long enough to give the orders.

A side note on Mary: How can someone who has done nothing but study her whole life be so stupid? And this is book smarts too–like basic geography of their own country. She hears where the French are, but doesn’t realize that she lives in the path of their march. Maybe that’s the reason Old B is so hard on her–she doesn’t have the mental capacity to learn what he wants her to learn, so he keeps forcing the same things on her over and over again. It truly sucks to be her.

We get a note on Andrew’s latest personality development: Since the broken off engagement he is only nice to people who he has recently met and is rude to anyone who knows his history. So, his army people love him, and everyone else is probably glad he’s off with them and not hanging around anymore.

And we end with a brief check in with Prince Vasili and his social peeps. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him, and he’s not doing the greatest. He belongs to two social groups with opposing views, and he can’t remember which comments are appropriate with which groups. It was a funny little chapter. Levity in the middle of war. Though Tolstoy has rarely made even his war scenes that serious. This book seems to poke fun at the upper class in every zone possible, from war to peace.

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