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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 1, Part 3, Chapter 14 Summary

  • This chapter is just straight-up military history. Well, at least military history from a regular soldier’s perspective. It’s all part of Tolstoy’s pattern of giving us a big-picture overview of the action, then zooming in to check on how the actual characters in the novel are doing.
  • The next morning, the Russian left flank of soldiers gets ready. They’re going to be the first to attack the French right flank.
  • They start walking through really thick fog.
  • At first morale is high, but then, quickly, some kind of feeling of uncertainty spreads. It’s like a virus, a horrible, airborne virus.
  • They all have to wait, but no one knows why, and so the soldiers immediately blame the Austrians for being the problem.
  • In reality, it’s that the infantry has to wait for the cavalry to pass in front of them, and all of this causes an hour-long delay.
  • In any case, even once everyone gets a move-on, all is not well.  The assumption for some reason is that the French troops are really far away, when instead they are all positioned on the other side of a valley. There is a dense fog in the valley, so the Russians walking through can’t see the enemy until they are very close, and can’t organize to start fighting until it’s too late.
  • Napoleon watches everything from a nearby hill. It’s the anniversary of his coronation. (Wait, is he a king? Well, yes and no – check out the “Setting” section for the scoop.)
  • Napoleon is all pensive and having feelings. He’s a sensitive ponytail man minus the ponytail and, probably, most of the sensitivity.
  • He waits a little bit and then orders his troops to attack the Russian soldiers.

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