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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary

  • A little Shmoop note for everyone. Just so we’re clear – many of the characters are real people. Tolstoy read a bunch of history, did a ton of his own research, and then wrote all these real people into the novel as though they were the same kind of characters as his invented ones. This was a new approach that Tolstoy invented.
  • Emperor Alexander gives the letter to his right-hand man, Balashov, and sends him off with instructions to personally give the letter to Napoleon.
  • Balashov takes off, gets to the French army, and is ignored and rudely treated by a bunch of the soldiers.
  • Finally, someone takes him up the chain of command.
  • The first person Balashov is presented to is Murat, who is now the King of Naples, per Napoleon’s orders. He is a stupid, kind of funny guy, who is doing his best to act like a king – meaning, of course, that he just comes off as a ridiculous clown.
  • They talk for a while, and eventually Murat sends Balashov on to see Marshal Davout.

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