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Clisson and Eugenie by Napoleon Bonaparte : Indranil Sarkar

Napoleon at 23 Politicians and military Generals writing novels or stories are hardly uncommon. Though they are not usually very good, they generate infinite curiosity in the readers world. Our understanding suffers a serious jerk when we hear people like Napoleon whose business is that of grandstanding among captains and kings, fighting battles, signing treaties and deciding the destiny of nations has also tried his hand in writing a novel. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. And, unbelievable though, its a fact that the great French General and Dictator Nepoleon Bonaparte tried to write novel as a young general of 26.

Clisson and Eugenie was the title of the only novel that was written by Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French Dictator in 1795. It was published in 2007 by the Gallic Books. Editor Peter Hicks assorted the original 22 page hand written manuscript of the story with the help of his wife and a number of scholars. Ultimately the 22 page manuscript became a 77 page romance novelette. Peter Hicks and Emilie Barthet translated and edited it into English. The reconstructed novelette turns out to be a beautiful romance of young general French named Clisson. It narrates a somewhat autobiographic love romance of Napoleon with Eugene Desiree Clary at about the same time. Clisson, a 26 year old heroic French soldier is bored of glory and seeks happiness. He befriends two sisters and falls in love with the more spiritual of the two. He finds happiness with the gentle, quiet

woman called Eugnie. Their eyes met and they soon knew that their hearts were made for each other. Triumphant on the field of battle, Clisson turns his back on worldly success. He falls in love and marries Eugnie. Clisson then takes a break from army life and the couple settles down in the country. "Months and years sped by like hours. They had kids and remained deeply in love." They are living happily in their country cottage. But, the young general is called back to lead troops into battle. Eugnie, left alone with the children, writes every day but Clisson is injured and he sends his deputy, Berville to convey her sad news. The story takes a tragic turn from this point. Berville doesnt return and the letters dwindle away. He seduces Eugene and starts living with Eugene instead and very soon Eugene forgets Clisson. Ultimately Clisson recovers from his wound and gets the news of Eugenes new love life. The frustrating incident makes Clisson demoralized. He responses to the end of his marriage by throwing himself into a stupidly dangerous position in battle ensuring his death in a remarkably melodramatic way tinged with revenge. The plot is based on Napoleon's own brief romance with Desiree Clary, the sister of his brother's wife. The novel is of only 22 page and quite difficult to read. It was written by the great general when he was more preoccupied with literary interest than by political pursuits. According to Hicks Nepoleon was a

well-read personality and he was influenced by Jean Jacques Rousseau, a philosopher from the period of Enlightenment. Hicks said that as a writer, Napoleon was a gifted stylist despite his poor spelling and barely legible handwriting. Finally, the story offers the reader a fascinating insight into how the young Napoleon viewed love, women and military life. The novelette is further interesting because it was written by such an extra-ordinary personality on whose life more than 50,000 books have already been written in almost all the languages of the world.

Indranil Sarkar
***** References & Links: i. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clisson_et_Eugenie ii. www.goodreads.com/book/show/7438042-clisson-and-eugenie
iii. gallicbooks.com/title/clisson-and-eugenie/9781906040277 iv. www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/nov/29/clisson-eugenie-napoleon-book-review v. www.napoleon.org/en/magazine/just_published/files/475445.asp vi www.gallicbooks.twelve12.co.uk.