Tuesday 25 May 2010

New Book on Napoleon's Captivity and Death : L'Autre St Hélène

As I have written before, emails from total strangers are one of the most pleasing things about blogging.

So far I have been spared any really unpleasant ones. I hope that statement is not a hostage to fortune!

Anyway I have had a couple of very interesting ones recently.

The first is from Albert Benhamou, the author of this new book on the captivity, which focuses on the illness, the death and the doctors around Napoleon.

Avid readers of this blog will have noted that the cover uses the James Sant portrait produced for Lord Rosebery's Napoleon the Last Phase, which is owned but regrettably currently not displayed by Glasgow Art Gallery.

Albert has provided a linked website which has some introductory pages in English, including a detailed synopsis and an impressive list of sources which will be a useful guide for anyone who wishes to study the Captivity. Unusually there is also Facebook site.

I was struck by the author's comment on his web page, particularly the highlighted sentence:

After nearly 200 years, the causes of his illness and of his death continue to raise questions. Considering how much contempt Napoleon had for medicine, one cannot fail to note the irony of the subsequent medical controversies. But irony has rarely been absent from the history of his captivity.

The book sounds fascinating. A slightly unusual focus, but one which seems eminently sensible. So far it is published only in French. I hope the author may be encouraged to publish it soon in English.

Hopefully soon I will be able to write about the other email, which is equally interesting to those interested in the Captivty.

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