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Comparison of Leo Tolstoys War and Peace and A Prisoner in the Caucasus - Essay Example

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The purpose of this paper is to analyze these two very important works by Leo N. Tolstoy, concentrating on two specific subject-matters to be compared, which are apparently intrinsic to both: the subject of war and the subject of national history.
Upon comparing Tolstoy's War and Peace and "A Prisoner in the Caucasus", the first thing that needs to be taken into account is the difference in format of the two works…
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Comparison of Leo Tolstoys War and Peace and A Prisoner in the Caucasus
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Download file to see previous pages In general and on a whole, it can be stated that there are more differences than similarities between the two. War and Peace provides ample background as to the war that is taking place, describing in detail the events leading up to the war, the reason for it, the points of view and particularities of both sides involved, and the historical context surrounding the characters and occurrences that are significant to the story. It is a standalone piece that a reader can approach without the need to be versed or even familiar with the history of the time period in which it unfolds, given the fact that all of this information is provided therein, whereas in "A Prisoner in the Caucasus", the only piece of information given as to historical context is that it is taking place amidst the war between the Russians and the Tartars, forcing the discerning and curious reader to research the circumstances of, and time in history when, said war was waged if he/she wishes to obtain some temporal reference or detailed contextual information that would serve as a basis for better understanding the tale's time and place.
Another general and very important difference between the novel and the short story consists of the fact that the latter was written by Tolstoy based on actual experiences. "A Prisoner in the Caucasus" fictionalizes Tolstoy's first-hand experience as a soldier in 1852 fighting in the war against the Chechenians, Tartars who rebelled against Russian rule. Evidence of actual occurrences that Tolstoy lived during his military career, which he either described in detail to instill realism into certain passages of his story or embellished upon to create memorable scenes, abounds in scholarly biographical works on the author. One such event is beautifully narrated in A Cadet in the Caucasus (Simmons, p. 23):
[Tolstoy] and Sado were in a convoy of stores from Fort Vozdvizhenskoe to Fort Groznoe. Although regulations strictly forbade anyone detaching himself from the convoy, because of the danger of being cut off by roving mountaineers, he, Sado and three mounted officers, impatient with the slow pace of the infantry, rode on ahead. Tolstoy and Sado ascended a ridge to see if any of the enemy were in sight. A large band suddenly appeared a short distance away. Shouting a warning to their three comrades below, Tolstoy and Sado galloped for the fort, less than three miles away. The Chechen band divided, seven taking up the pursuit of Tolstoy and Sado and the rest dashing after the other officers. These men had been slow to take the warning and two of them were severely wounded before reaching the convoy. Meanwhile Tolstoy, who had been trying out Sado's spirited new horse and hence might easily have escaped, refused to desert his friend, who was mounted on Tolstoy's slow ambler. The Chechens drew nearer and nearer, while Sado tried to keep them at a distance by threatening them with an unloaded gun. The enemy could have shot them down, but apparently they desired to take them alive, especially the renegade Sado, whom they no doubt wished to torture. Fortunately, a Cossack guard at the post saw their plight. A rescue party at once galloped out and the Chechens fled.
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