Saturday, May 29, 2010
from page 157-158 of original text
collage, acrylic paint on paper
Here is a scene with a piece of writing I particularly enjoyed: it's from p. 180 of the translation, which is close in the storyline with this page from the original text. It is a battle scene, one which I believe the Russians eventually win.
Just then they were all approaching Tushin's battery, and a cannonball landed in front of them. "What fell?" the auditor asked, smiling naively. "French pancakes," said Zherkov. "So that's what they hit you with?" asked the auditor. "How frightful!" And he seemed to melt all over with satisfaction.
I laughed out loud when I read this. (So, Laura, look out for those French pancakes!)
This whole scene again, is full of references where Tolstoy is pointing out the absurd situation of the Russians simultaneously being under attack from the French, and yet admiring them for their culture and organization. A few moments after the silly auditor makes the pancake remark, the smoke of the battle clears and
...the hill opposite, with the French moving over it, opened out before them. All eyes were involuntarily turned to this French column that was moving towards them, winding down the terraces of the slope. The soldiers' shaggy hats were already visible; one could already distinguish the officers from the men; one could see their standard fluttering against the staff.
"Nice marching," said someone in Bagrations's suite.
Tolstoy manages to capture the military descriptions and the humanity of the battlefield - not just suffering, but the silly comments, admiration of the enemy, desire to impress one's superiors and look good and fight well, the fear, ambition and egos.
All woven together.