Category Archives: Supplemental Resources

The Real Speransky

Just as all novelists blend fact into the fiction mix, Tolstoy has peppered War and Peace with some real historical figures – Mikhail Speransky being just one of them.  Speransky, Prince Andrei’s one-time mentor, really did exist and was considered quite the liberal reformer.  For your enrichment, I’ve attached an article about him from Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire.


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It seems that our January assignment contains a lot of references to Freemasonry.  As someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about the Freemasons, I searched for some additional resources.  First, with all the Dan Brown fictionalizations swirling around out there, you might look at National Geographic’s article “The Lost Symbol” and the Freemasons: 8 Myths Decoded.”  For a more thorough look at the Freemasons, I’ve attached an article about them from Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire.  I retrieved it from our online reference book database, Info in a Box, accessible from home for EPL cardholders via our Research page.

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The Battle of Austerlitz, etc.

Understandably, the battles depicted in our November reading assignment might be a source of confusion for some of us.  To aid our attempts to understand the bigger picture of what’s happening in the novel on the military side of things, I’ve found a couple of quick and dirty resources.  First, take a look at PBS’s Napoleon at War webpage.  The link will take you to the section on the Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign, which is the portion most relevant to us so far.  The History Channel has a great video zeroing on the Battle of Austerliz.

I realize these portions of the novel can be intimidating because it’s difficult at times to know what’s happening.  However, unless you’re particularly interested in doing a lot supplementary study of the military portions, I think it’s fine to have a general grasp of these battles.  Focus most on the characters, how they’re developing, and how they’re responding to events generally beyond their control.

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