No Thine Own Self

Day 207 of A Year of War and Peace

If only the late Count Bezukhov was as liberal with his tutelage as he was with his fortune then perhaps Pierre would not be in the dangerous situation he finds himself in today. The old Count could have gone the Polonius route and, spurning brevity, lavished on his son all of the wisdom he had accrued during his life. Instead he shipped his poor bastard boy off to France, leaving his education to French tutors. The result is that Pierre, as we have seen, is a man adrift. He’s in a constant state of searching for his identity. He has no thine own self to be true to.

That’s why he’s such a confused mess standing in a stupid white hat on a hill overlooking Borodino today. Pierre isn’t a military man. He has no training in that field. And, yet, here he is. Why? Because he once discovered some chuckleheaded numerology linking his name to Napoleon, the world’s foremost military mind? Does Pierre really think he, bespectacled fat man, can really contribute something other than resources and finance to the war effort?

Pierre would do much better if he were to continue on his quest for self-improvement. A good place to start would be for him to really meditate on who he is.


On the occasion of every act ask yourself, How is this with respect to me? Will I regret it? A little time and I am dead, and all is gone. What more do I seek, if what I am now doing is the work of an intelligent living being, and a social being, and one who is under the same law with God?
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

This is the two hundred and seventh 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.

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