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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 Awful Poetry of War

The Awful Poetry of War

Tolstoy’s Borodino

(p.123) 9 The Awful Poetry of War
Tolstoy On War

Donna Tussing Orwin

Cornell University Press

This chapter describes how Tolstoyan war psychology blends with his theories of war in ways that make it difficult to separate them. It also analyzes how Leo Tolstoy mythologizes the physical setting of battle and its terrible dynamics. The account of the Battle of Borodino in War and Peace is Tolstoy's most extensive treatment of a single day's action. However, he included very few of the actual events in the battle. In War and Peace the mapping of the fictional narrative of war onto real space seems to ground it in history and in a specific geographical place, while discrete recourse to epic metaphor poeticizes history and the places where it occurred. The poetic devices that Tolstoy employs have their own extension in time if not in space; he draws on genres and metaphors that are part of the Russian cultural imagination and of Western art in general.

Keywords:   Tolstoyan war psychology, Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, war theories, Battle of Borodino, Russian cultural imagination, Western art

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