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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 Great Man in War and Peace

The Great Man in War and Peace

Chapter:
(p.85) 6 The Great Man in War and Peace
Source:
Tolstoy On War
Author(s):

Jeff Love

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801448980.003.0007

This chapter analyzes the philosophical hierarchy of the characters in War and Peace. It associates Napoleon Bonaparte with the modern philosophical project of the conquest of nature through science. Napoleon practices military theory based on scientific principles and on “modern mathematical theories”. He epitomizes “the modern will to mastery over all impediments to human power, the impetus of the finite being to overcome finitude, to wrestle with fate and win.” An admirer of the French Emperor, the character Andrei Bolkonsky starts his quest for military glory with such ambitions. The chapter then turns to the character of Platon Karataev, who figures as an unrealistic ideal, and in a different reading, his narrative illustrates the failure of human beings to achieve what Tolstoy regards as philosophical perfection.

Keywords:   philosophical hierarchy, War and Peace, Napoleon Bonaparte, nature through science, military theory, Andrei Bolkonsky, Platon Karataev

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