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Étienne Balibar

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780823273607

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823273607.001.0001

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Men, Armies, Peoples: Tolstoy and the Subject of War

Men, Armies, Peoples: Tolstoy and the Subject of War

Chapter:
(p.173) Eight: Men, Armies, Peoples: Tolstoy and the Subject of War
Source:
Citizen Subject
Author(s):

Étienne Balibar

, Steven Miller
Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823273607.003.0011

This chapter analyzes the Clausewitzian concept of war as reflected in Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace, which first appeared in five installments from 1865 to 1869. It is universally considered one of the masterpieces of world literature, not only because Tolstoy used elements from Clausewitz in preparation for writing the novel, but more specifically because the narrative echoes one of Clausewitz's most famous theses: that which concerns the “strategic superiority of defense over offense.” Tolstoy's new interpretation of this thesis goes back, in a certain sense, to the “source” of its elaboration in order to draw new philosophical consequences from it.

Keywords:   Karl von Clausewitz, Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, war, defense over offense

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