Clisson et Eugénie

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Clisson et Eugénie is a romantic novella, written by Napoleon. [1] Napoleon wrote Clisson et Eugénie in 1795, and it is widely acknowledged as being a fictionalised account of the doomed romance of a soldier and his lover, which paralleled Bonaparte's own relationship with Eugénie Désirée Clary. [2]

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Désirée Clary Queen of Sweden and Norway

Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, in Swedish officially Eugenia Bernhardina Desideria, was Queen of Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Charles XIV John, a former French general and founder of the House of Bernadotte. She was the mother of Oscar I, and one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte. She officially changed her name there to Desideria, which she did not use herself.



Clisson, a heroic revolutionary French soldier, but tired of war, meets and falls for Eugénie at a public bath. Retiring from the military, Clisson and Eugénie marry and raise several children within an idyllic countryside retreat, but war returns and Clisson feels compelled to serve his country. Unfortunately, Clisson is injured in battle and Berville, a comrade sent to reassure Eugénie, seduces his wife, who stops sending Clisson letters. Heartbroken at the end of his marriage, Clisson then sends off one final letter to his unfaithful wife and her new lover before deliberately engineering his death at the front of an armed charge toward the enemy. [3]

Some observers have claimed that Napoleon was influenced by the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, particularly La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761) and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). [4]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Genevan philosopher, writer and composer

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought.

<i>The Sorrows of Young Werther</i> 1774 novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther is a loosely autobiographical epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, first published in 1774. A revised edition followed in 1787. It was one of the most important novels in the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and influenced the later Romantic movement. Goethe, aged 24 at the time, finished Werther in five-and-a-half weeks of intensive writing in January–March 1774. The book's publication instantly placed the author among the foremost international literary celebrities, and remains the best known of his works. Towards the end of Goethe's life, a personal visit to Weimar became a crucial stage in any young man's Grand Tour of Europe.

Compilation of Clisson et Eugénie

Peter Hicks (a British historian) and Emilie Barthet compiled the current reconstructed and composite version of Clisson et Eugénie from multiple drafts. The manuscript had previously been unpublished, fragmented and dispersed. One fragment was in the possession of Étienne Soulange-Bodin, an expert horticulturalist at the Château de Malmaison, the final home of the Empress Joséphine, Napoleon's first wife. On 22 November 1821, it was then handed to a British francophile, which resided in her or his collection until it was then purchased at an auction in Sotheby's, London, in July 1938. Its purchaser, Hermann Eisemann, then onsold it in New York, leading to the ownership of a Cuban national, Julio Lobo. In 2005, it reappeared amidst the collection of an Italian autograph dealer, Fausto Foroni. This segment of the manuscript was unpublished until its rediscovery, compilation and publication.

Étienne Soulange-Bodin French agronomist

Étienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846) was the French biologist botanist and army officer who is commemorated by his hybrid magnolia, Magnolia × soulangeana. Though he is otherwise scarcely remembered today, he played a major role in the organization of professional horticulture in France, 1815–1845.

Château de Malmaison

Château de Malmaison is a French château near the western bank of the Seine about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) west of the centre of Paris in Rueil-Malmaison.

Empress Joséphine Empress of the French

Joséphine was the first wife of Napoleon, and thus the first Empress of the French.

A second fragment resided within the collection of Count Titus Dzialynski, a Polish bibliophile, containing forty pages of folio manuscript in Napoleon's handwriting. It was authenticated by Napoleon's personal staff when he was given the second segment in May 1822. This segment was finally published for the first time in 1920 and several times thereafter.

A third section consisted of four pages, exchanged amongst antiquarians and manuscript collectors within London early last century. British property developer and socialist Howard Samuel purchased the pages for two thousand three hundred pounds in 1955. These pages are now housed in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Santa Barbara, California. A fourth segment was originally acquired by Count Grigoriy Vladimirovich Orlov (1726-1826) in December 1823. It now resides in Moscow's State Historical Museum. Count Orlov had spent time in France and was associated with the favourites of Tsarina Catherine the Great during this period. This fourth fragment was published by Fayard in France for the first time in 2007 [5]

The Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world's largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. The library was founded in 1983 by California real estate magnates David and Marsha Karpeles, with the goal of stimulating interest in learning, especially in children. All of the Karpeles Manuscript Library services are free.

Santa Barbara, California City in California, United States

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria. The contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

State Historical Museum National history museum in Moscow, Russia

The State Historical Museum of Russia is a museum of Russian history wedged between Red Square and Manege Square in Moscow. Its exhibitions range from relics of prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty. The total number of objects in the museum's collection comes to millions.

Hicks identified the fifth section of the manuscript as the opening page of Clisson et Eugénie. It had previously belonged to French financier Andre de Coppet, who amassed a considerable collection of Napoleonic memorabilia. In December 2007, it was auctioned off to a private French collector. The sixth and final fragment of the text consisted of four pages that had become detached from the Orlov fragment at the State Historical Museum in Moscow. Altogether, Napoleon appears to have made five attempts at writing the story, judging from the number of extant prior handwritten manuscripts. [6]

English translation and republication

In 2009, it was noted that British publishers Gallic Books had purchased the English-language rights to Clisson et Eugénie, edited by Peter Hicks during 2008. In December 2007, Hicks had discovered a missing section of Napoleon's novella and he then compiled multiple drafts of the work into a "definitive" edition. It also has an introduction from Armand Cabasson, a French historical fiction author who specialises in Napoleonic period murder and criminal fiction novels. [7]

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  1. Napoleon Bonaparte: Clisson and Eugenie: London: Gallic Books: 2009: ISBN   1906040273
  2. Dwyer, Philip (2008). Napoleon:The Path to Power 1769–1799. Bloomsbury. p. 164. ISBN   9780747566779.
  3. Flora Fraser: "Napoleon, romantic novelist: Times: 24.10.2009
  4. Fraser, 2009: ibid
  5. Napoleon Bonaparte: Clisson et Eugénie: Paris: Fayard: 2007: ISBN   2213633428
  6. "Napoleon's Novella: Clisson and Eugenie: A Brief History of the Manuscript": Bookhugger: October 2009:
  7. Catherine Neilan: "Gallic to publish Napoleon's novella" Bookseller: 05.08.2009: 5381: 11