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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 2, Part 3, Chapter 4 Summary

  • In August 1809 Andrei goes to Petersburg.
  • Big things are afoot there: the emperor has a new adviser, Speransky, who is single-handedly changing the way government positions are filled. He is instituting actual requirements for getting government jobs – no more just handing out positions to any old nobleman. Now they have to pass qualifying exams and, for the highest positions, they have to have college degrees. It’s the dawn of the modern era, folks. (Amazingly, England didn’t get around to instituting civil service exams until the 1850s.)
  • Andrei’s been thinking about improvements to the way the army runs. He brings his recommendations to court and realizes that the emperor just really doesn’t like him for some reason. Oh well. He decides to take his ideas to the minister of war, Arakcheev, instead.
  • In Arakcheev’s waiting room, everyone is pretty much freaking out.  He is apparently a scary guy, and Andrei can hear him yelling at other people who have earlier appointments.
  • Finally, Andrei goes in to see him, presents him with his ideas, and Arakcheev basically throws the memo back in his face. This guy doesn’t waste time on politeness, that’s for sure.
  • But since Andrei is a relatively famous guy, he does get appointed to the committee on military regulations.

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