War and Peace

War and Peace


Leo Tolstoy

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Clock Symbol Analysis

Clock Symbol Icon

Tolstoy likens the events of war to the precisely tuned workings of a mechanical clock. For example, in the days preceding the battle of Austerlitz, battle preparations tick down as inevitably as the motions of a clock, as if they’ve been set in motion long before. This image symbolizes Tolstoy’s belief that history unfolds according to the law of predetermination. Because events are the result of countless circumstances coming together over time, historians can’t isolate singular causes and must resort to predetermination, or the law of necessity, to explain events.

Clock Quotes in War and Peace

The War and Peace quotes below all refer to the symbol of Clock. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Society and Wealth Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of War and Peace published in 2008.
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 10–13 Quotes

As in a clock the result of the complex movement of numberless wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and measured movement of the hands pointing to the time, so also the result of all the complex human movements of these hundred and sixty thousand Russians and French—all the passions, desires, regrets, humiliations, sufferings, bursts of pride, fear, rapture—was merely the loss of the battle of Austerlitz, the so-called battle of the three emperors, that is, a slow movement of the world-historical hand on the clockface of human history.

Related Symbols: Clock
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
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Clock Symbol Timeline in War and Peace

The timeline below shows where the symbol Clock appears in War and Peace. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Part 3: Chapters 10–13
European Culture vs. The Russian Soul Theme Icon
War and Peace Theme Icon
...of the day before the battle are like the minutely tuned motions of a mechanical clock. Prince Andrei senses that Kutuzov is upset about what he’s been told at headquarters, so... (full context)