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Tolstoy On WarNarrative Art and Historical Truth in “War and Peace”$
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Rick McPeak and Donna Tussing Orwin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448980

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448980.001.0001

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Moscow in 1812

Moscow in 1812

Myths and Realities

(p.42) 3 Moscow in 1812
Tolstoy On War

Alexander M. Martin

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how Leo Tolstoy shapes the world of War and Peace subjectively and on his own terms by excluding points with which he is not sympathetic. The fictional world of War and Peace does not correspond to the historical realities of the 1812 campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Tolstoy mainly portrays the occupation and burning of Moscow from the point of view of the gentry, and not the townspeople who recalled events differently from those depicted in the book. The towns people blamed the aristocrats for deserting them and the peasants for sacking the city rather than, as War and Peace would have it, rebuilding it. They left behind vivid descriptions of disorder, filth, and violence that Tolstoy would have had to take into account to do full justice to the situation.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, fictional world, 1812 campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte, burning of Moscow, gentry

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