Mikhail Kutuzov, Ludw ig von Wolzogen and Roast Chicken (An Episode of the Battle of Borodino in an Historical Document and Leo Tolstoy’s Novel)

Vladimir Zemtsov


L. N. Tolstoy’s War and Peace describes the arrival of adjutant L. Wolzogen at M. I. Kutuzov’s headquarters during the battle of Borodino in an attempt to convince the commander that the battle had been lost. Kutuzov rejects the message and states that the enemy has been defeated, claiming that the Russian army will embark on the offensive the following day. Tolstoy describes the events ironically, and the scene demonstrates different human and national attitudes to the war. Kutuzov is characterized by perspicacity and wisdom, a levelled attitude and belief in the Russian Army. Ludwig Wolzogen, an officer of German descent, is a man of pedantic calculation that does not believe in the possibility for the Russians to win the war. Besides the fact that this description determined the perception of the events in question by Tolstoy’s readers, it also conditioned the subsequent interpretation of the episode in artefacts. The article makes an attempt to find the probable sources of Tolstoy’s version of the events and reconstruct Kutuzov’s meeting with Wolzogen. With reference to a historical document, the author restores the good name of the German officer serving in the Russian Army. The author first publishes the account of the events made in 1816 and stored in the collection of the Historical Service of the French Ministry of Defense.


Battle of Borodino; M. I. Kutuzov; L. Wolzogen; L. N. Tolstoy.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2015.2.107


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