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All this time Rastopchin has been furious that he didn’t get invited to Kutuzov’s war council. In his head, he’s the top VIP, so he is just made crazy by the idea of being ignored and overstepped.
Even more galling? He gets a short note from Kutuzov that Moscow is going to be abandoned. He’s not even worth a full letter.
Afterward, when he wrote about his doings during the Moscow occupation, Rastopchin would say that all of his actions were for the public good and public safety. Tolstoy is like, um yeah, that’s what all dictators and oppressors say.
Mostly Rastopchin’s problem seems to be a total lack of self-awareness and a firm belief that the people of Moscow love him. He’s like the Michael Scott of 19th-century Russia.
When he gets this note from Kutuzov, he’s forced to face at least the fact that he’s been in denial about needing to evacuate the city. All the paperwork, all the people – nothing is ready to move.
He gives orders all night, trying to catch up with everything he hasn’t been doing. The mental hospital? Let them all into the streets. The prisons? Let them out too. What about political prisoners, like Vereshchagin (who was introduced back in Chapter 10)?
Rastopchin thinks for minute and then asks that Vereshchagin be brought to him.