Chiffre de Bezukhov

From Kook Science

Le Chiffre de Bezukhov (English: "Bezukhov's Cipher") is a system of converting Latin letters to defined numeric values, produced by Leo Tolstoy in his novel War and Peace (Book Nine, Chapter XIX), and, in that work, credited to the character Pierre Bezukhov, for whom we name it.

War and Peace

  • Tolstoy, Leo; Maude, Louise (trans.); Maude, Alymer (trans.) (1952), "Pierre's relation to life altered by his feeling for Natasha. 666. Napoleon as Anti-christ.", War And Peace, Chicago: William Benton (Encyclopaedia Britannica), p. 377-378, 

    Pierre still went into society, drank as much and led the same idle and dissipated life, because besides the hours he spent at the Rostóvs’ there were other hours he had to spend somehow, and the habits and acquaintances he had made in Moscow formed a current that bore him along irresistibly. But latterly, when more and more disquieting reports came from the seat of war and Natásha’s health began to improve and she no longer aroused in him the former feeling of careful pity, an ever-increasing restlessness, which he could not explain, took possession of him. He felt that the condition he was in could not continue long, that a catastrophe was coming which would change his whole life, and he impatiently sought everywhere for signs of that approaching catastrophe. One of his brother Masons had revealed to Pierre the following prophecy concerning Napoleon, drawn from the Revelation of St. John.

    In chapter 13, verse 18, of the Apocalypse, it is said:

    Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    And in the fifth verse of the same chapter:

    And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

    The French alphabet, written out with the same numerical values as the Hebrew, in which the first nine letters denote units and the others tens, will have the following significance:

    abcdefghi (j)k

    Writing the words L’Empereur Napoléon in numbers, it appears that the sum of them is 666,1 and that Napoleon was therefore the beast foretold in the Apocalypse. Moreover, by applying the same system to the words quarante-deux,2 which was the term allowed to the beast that “spoke great things and blasphemies,” the same number 666 was obtained; from which it followed that the limit fixed for Napoleon’s power had come in the year 1812 when the French emperor was forty-two. This prophecy pleased Pierre very much and he often asked himself what would put an end to the power of the beast, that is, of Napoleon, and tried by the same system of using letters as numbers and adding them up, to find an answer to the question that engrossed him. He wrote the words L’Empereur Alexandre, La nation russe and added up their numbers, but the sums were either more or less than 666. Once when making such calculations he wrote down his own name in French, Comte Pierre Besouhoff, but the sum of the numbers did not come right. Then he changed the spelling, substituting a z for the s and adding de and the article le, still without obtaining the desired result. Then it occurred to him: if the answer to the question were contained in his name, his nationality would also be given in the answer. So he wrote Le russe Besuhof and adding up the numbers got 671. This was only five too much, and five was represented by e, the very letter elided from the article le before the word Empereur. By omitting the e, though incorrectly, Pierre got the answer he sought. L’russe Besuhof made 666. This discovery excited him. How, or by what means, he was connected with the great event foretold in the Apocalypse he did not know, but he did not doubt that connection for a moment. His love for Natásha, Antichrist, Napoleon, the invasion, the comet, 666, L’Empereur Napoléon, and L’russe Besuhof — all this had to mature and culminate, to lift him out of that spellbound, petty sphere of Moscow habits in which he felt himself held captive and lead him to a great achievement and great happiness.

    1. Including a 5 for the letter e dropped by elision from the le before Empereur. —TR.
    2. Forty-two.