Monday, 18 November 2013

[Review] Clisson and Eugenie by Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte is a well known name. He was Emporor of France, he invaded Russia and Spain, and he was at war with the English as well.  Not only was he accomplished when it came to fighting battles and making war, but it also turns out that he was a writer as well.  I don't know how succesful he was in his time, but he did write a few things.  One of them was the 'novel' Clisson and Eugenie.

Clisson and Eugenie is a love story between the titular characters in which they fall in love and get married.  At some point in their marriage, Clisson is called away to war and he leaves Eugenie behind.  After Clisson is wounded, he sends a trusted friend to keep Eugenie company until he is well enough to return.  Unfortunately, this friend seduces Eugenie and she stops sending letters.  Heartbroken, he engineers a glorious death in the heat of battle, leading a charge himself.

This novel itself is only a few pages long and might not be complete.  The edition I have is compiled from several fragments that were scattered after Napoleon's death.  It took many years to get them back together and the editors of the latest editions spent many hours comparing the various versions and sorting the fragments into order.  In parts the text is italicised to indicate that the passage is not Napoleon's work but rather the work of the editors to fill in a missing gap.  While I don't have the original French edition, the difference in writers does not notice in the English translation.

What is remarkable is the work itself, rather than the author, famous as he is.  It's a short but powerful and emotional journey from start to finish.  The romance between Clisson and Eugenie is clear and prominent in the text, as is the sorrow felt by Clisson at the end.  There was meme about how things are better love stories than the Twilight series, and this is definitely better by a long shot, despite being a fraction of the length.

My only criticism is that it does read much like an outline of a novel or a lengthy synopsis.  I don't know if that was intentional or whether Napoleon intended to write a fuller version with dialogue, in depth descriptions, character actions, and so on.  What I do know is that, short as it is, it is a very good read.  I'm not sure it's worth the RRP of £7.99 though as two thirds is writing about the novel with the novel taking up the last third.  I managed to find it for £2 though and I consider it quite the bargain.

Should you see a copy for about that price then I highly recommend getting it.  Whether it's for historical reasons, interest in Napoleon, or just because it's not something you see often, it is something I'll read a lot.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

National Novel Writing Month Begins

So today is November 2nd.  I had meant to do a post yesterday but I didn't actually manage to write anything, so I'm making the first post of my NaNoWriMo journey today.

It is 2pm exactly right now and I have 688 words.  I have three hours and 45 minutes until I have to leave the refuge that is Starbucks and go home.  In the time I hope to have written 3,332 words in total.  It'll be a struggle but it'll catch me up for today's goal.

So far I still don't have a genre or theme or plot or anything.  I do have two characters though, so it's not a complete disaster.  All I can say now is 'wish me luck'!