Napoleon's romance novel manuscript set to auction at Bonhams

Manuscript Man

Manuscript Man

2016-09-08 15:09:23

A partial manuscript for Napoleon Bonaparte's long-lost novel is heading for auction at Bonhams.

Although best known for being Emperor of France, the conqueror of Europe and one of history's greatest military minds, Napoleon was also apparently a budding romance novelist.
Napoleon originally wrote the novella Clisson and Eugénie in the 1780s and 1790s, during the early years of his military career. 

The story was clearly based upon Napoleon's own experiences and personality, with his leading character Clisson, a young French officer, described as "a man of fervent imagination, with his blazing heart, his uncompromising intellect and his cool head".

The portion of the manuscript for sale at Bonhams was believed lost for years, and sees Clisson and Eugénie meet, fall in love and spend seven years as a married couple, all with the space of four pages. It reads, in part:

"In his new life with Eugénie, Clisson had certainly avenged the injustice of men. Indeed, he barely thought of it any more; it seemed to him like a dream. The world, the people around them, their neighbors had completely forgotten what Clisson had once been.

"Eugénie and Clisson lived a secluded life, delighting in love, nature, and rustic simplicity. Some thought them mad, others misanthropic, only the poor appreciated and blessed them, which consoled them from the disdain of fools ...

"Clisson forgot about war and despised his former life when he had lived without Eugénie, without drawing every breath for her. He gave himself up to love and renounced all thought of glory."

The full story was published in its entirety in 2007, after being pieced together from a series of Napoleon's heavily revised, handwritten manuscripts. The largest section is part of the permanent collection of the Polish National Archives, but the manuscript offered at Bonhams was believed lost for many years.

As one of the few fragments of the novella remaining in private hands, the manuscript is set to sell with an estimate of $180,000 - $250,000 (£130,000 - £190,000).

The Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale takes place in New York on September 21.

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