In 1807 Major Denisov got court-martialed for stealing food, threatening and insulting chief quartermaster, and thrashing two officials even dislocating the arm of one of them. All of this happens near the end of Book VI. Denisov's actual fate is not presented, but in my understanding it meant he was sent to Siberia if not worse and won't appear in the novel again. Yet much later, in 1812 and middle of Book IX he reappears as Lieutenant Colonel, a rank higher than that of Major. How did that happen? It feels like there's no continuity in what happened to him.

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While I didn’t find an explicit explanation in the book, it’s possible to speculate about it. The simplest solution is as follows.

Vasily Denisov has a clear historical prototype: Denis Vasilyevich Davydov, one of the most popular heroes of the 1812 war. They have similar names, stature, personal traits and so on (for a proper statement see an article in the Russian magazine «Дилетант» (Dilettante) – claiming that ‘’every school kid knows” that). In 1812, Davydov was a Lieutenant-Colonel and led guerrilla warfare against the French. Russian readers were aware of these connections, so when Denisov reappears, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

Of course, if the hero is sent to Siberia, this explanation doesn’t work. But this doesn’t follow from the text or historical sources. In the novel we only have:

The adjutant told them that the affair was likely to take a very bad turn: that a court-martial had been appointed, and that in view of the severity with which marauding and insubordination were now regarded, degradation to the ranks would be the best that could be hoped for.

Historian Natan Eidelman in his book «Грань веков» (The edge of the centuries) studied the verdicts of the supreme audit military court (which tried the nobility). He found out that while under the rule of Paul I the share of harsh sentences was significant, the penalties became softer after his son Alexander I succeeded him in 1801:

More than 70% of the sentences are short–term arrest, treatment of production, demotion for short periods, imputation of the court as punishment, arrest for two weeks.

So Siberia doesn’t seem inevitable (note that Denisov is an officer and nobleman). In 1807, Denisov receives some punishment, then in 1812, when Russia is invaded, his military skills grow higher in demand, and he goes to lead a guerrilla detachment.

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