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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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The French at War

The French at War

Representations of the Enemy in War and Peace

(p.59) 4 The French at War
Tolstoy On War

Alan Forrest

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores how Leo Tolstoy described the French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte in War and Peace. It analyzes the memoirs he used to portray the French and discusses their reliability. These memoirs—written years later by veterans of the conflict—have transformed into narratives with plotlines that require that some things be emphasized and others left out. In this respect, the memoirs are closer to fiction than to “scientific” history. Tolstoy knew many of the Russian memoirs first hand, as well as some of the French, and he valued the opinions of those who had experienced action in the campaign. What is interesting is how international these experiences often were. Many of the views and values that Tolstoy ascribes to his Russian heroes were also expressed by their French opponents.

Keywords:   Leo Tolstoy, French troops, Napoleon Bonaparte, War and Peace, memoirs

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