Friday, July 15, 2011

Collage 465

It was around this time that I began to pay much more attention to the story line. This collage "illustrates" a big hot-air balloon that the Russian sovereign had constructed for military use against the Napoleonic army.

"That day to distract himself, Pierre went to the village of Vorontsovo to look at the big hot air-balloon that was being constructed by Leppich to destroy the enemy, and the testing of the balloon, which was to go up the next day. The balloon was not ready yet, but, as Pierre learned, it was being constructed at the wish of the sovereign."

The footnote says: "Franz Leppich, a Dutch peasant, went to Moscow in 1812 to convince Rastopchin that he could build a hot-air balloon that would enable the Russians to attack the French from the air. (Leppich had made the same proposal a year ago to Napoleon, who had ordered him removed from French territory.) When the balloon was finally tried out, it failed to rise, and nothing more was seen of its inventor."

I find it interesting how Tolstoy weaves his story into history, or visa versa. Which makes me wonder about the whole genre of the "historical novels". Is this one of the first? Or is it insulting to call this masterpiece a "historical novel"? Tolstoy has a lot to say in the Epilogue about what this work is and what it is not. -- Lola

Lola Baltzell
from page 185-186, Volume 2 of original text
made 4/8/11
Pevear/Volokhonsky translation page 749-751

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