Plans and Anti-Plans

Day 41 of A Year of War and Peace


Today’s reading is one of the shortest in the novel. It starts by showcasing more of Prince Andrei’s diligence and intelligence. He has just completed his survey of the Russian and French troops and he immediately turns to planning for any contingency of action the French may take. He relies on historical analysis of past battles, the position of the troops, and his own intuition.

His brilliant thoughts are interrupted, however, when he overhears a nearby conversation. It’s Tushin and some other Russian troops. They’re discussing death. Get used to that. Death is a major topic and War and Peace and also, therefore, in A Year of War and Peace.

At any rate, as the men discuss death, death’s agent, in the form of a French cannon ball, lands just outside their tent and the Battle of Schöngrabern is on.


In this chapter the conversation about death centers around the question of why men are afraid of death? One conversant offers that it’s the uncertainty about what is beyond death that frightens men. Another says that afterlife or no afterlife, death’s check is in the mail so why fret? I like this. So does Marcus Aurelius.

Death is . . . an operation of nature; and if anyone is afraid of an operation of nature, he is a child.

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations

This is the forty-first installment in a daily, yearlong, chapter-by-chapter reading devotional and meditation on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. For more information on this project please read the introduction to the series here.

I’m also very interested in hearing what you have to say about the novel. So leave a comment and let me know.

If you like these essays and would like to support me please consider purchasing my eBook A Year of War and Peace. I also have a Patreon or you could make a one time donation to my PayPal account at Please use that email address if you want to contact me. Or you could follow me on Twitter.

For my friends and family, love. For my enemies, durian fruit.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store