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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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Tolstoy and Clausewitz

Tolstoy and Clausewitz

The Duel as a Microcosm of War

(p.111) 8 Tolstoy and Clausewitz
Tolstoy On War

Rick Mcpeak

Cornell University Press

This chapter demonstrates how parallels between the military theories of Leo Tolstoy and Carl von Clausewitz play out in the fictional narrative of War and Peace. Both Tolstoy and Clausewitz attempted to explain war to their uninitiated readers by employing the metaphor of the duel, a violent tradition connected to chivalry. Clausewitz and Tolstoy, whose readers were familiar with the conventions of dueling, described war as an extension of the duel. In his seminal treatise, On War, Clausewitz depicts war as a “duel on a larger scale.” The principles of war as enunciated by Andrei Bolkonsky and Tolstoy's narrator govern Pierre's duel with Dolokhov, which takes on a dynamic of its own that Pierre cannot resist even as he repudiates it.

Keywords:   military theories, Leo Tolstoy, Carl von Clausewitz, War and Peace, duel, chivalry, On War, Andrei Bolkonsky, Dolokhov

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