Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Collage 167

Our friend Otto in Berlin writes:

This is the last page of Chapter XIII in Book 3. All the preliminaries to the Battle of Austerlitz are complete. It is
the evening before the great battle. Tolstoy ends the chapter with Napoleon's proclamation, which I assume to be
historically documented, to his troops:

Soldiers! The Russian army is advancing against us in order to avenge the Austrian army of Ulm. These are the same battalions you crushed at Hollabrunn and have been pursuing ever since to this place. The position we occupy is a strong one, and while they are marching to go round me on the right they will expose a flank to me. Soldiers! I will myself direct your battalions. I will keep out of fire if you
with your habitual valor carry disorder and confusion into the enemy's ranks, but should victory be in doubt, even for a moment, you will see your Emperor exposing himself to the first blows of the enemy, for
there must be no doubt of victory, especially on this day when what is at stake is the honor of the French infantry, so necessary to the honor of our nation. Do not break your ranks
on the plea of removing the wounded!

Let every man be fully imbued with the thought that we must defeat these hirelings of England, inspired by such hatred of our nation! This victory will conclude our campaign and we can return to winter quarters, where fresh French troops who are being raised in France will join us, and the peace I shall conclude will be worthy of my people, of you, and of myself.


With the collage, I sought to suggest how simple and orderly everything seems before the fighting begins. All the battle plans, deployments - "dispositions" - have been made. The commanders have issued their inspiring declarations. Tolstoy's descriptions of the battle will fill the next six chapters (77 pages in my Pevear-Volokhonsky hardback), until the end of Volume 1.

Otto Mayr
from page 341-342 of original text
collage, acrylic paint
made 8/20/10
Berlin, Germany

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