From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...