Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Napoleon: second only to Jesus Christ!

1. Jesus (Holman Hunt) 2. Napoleon 3. Will Shakespeare

It is always a pleasure to read Margaret Rodenberg's blog, Finding Napoleon. A knowledgeable, considered writer who eschews historical clichés and is well aware of the complexity of Napoleon's character, Margaret is writing a novel from Napoleon's point of view. This is a very different undertaking from the well researched novel Napoleon in America by Shannon Selin, another North American author, which I reviewed a few weeks back.

In 2011, as part of her research, Margaret visited Paris, Corsica and St Helena, which may well be more than any previous Napoleonic writer has achieved in the space of a single year! She has set herself a most difficult task, and I look forward to reading her book when it is published.

Her most recent post entitled Big Data Shows Napoleon Bonaparte is History’s 2nd Biggest Figure referred to a book recently published which has attempted to use quantitate methods to assess the importance of historical figures.

Who's Bigger? Where Historical Figures Really Rank Steven Skiena & Charles B. Ward

Unsurprisingly, to me at least, Napoleon came second. A.J.P. Taylor, without the mathematical research, pointed out in 1969 that there were more books about Napoleon than any other human being,"(a phrase carefully chosen in order to rule out Jesus Christ)"

The reason for this is impossible fully to explain, but I like A.J.P. Taylor's explanation,

He [Napoleon] actually provides pleasure for those who write about him. It is very rare to pick up a book about Napoleon which has the air of being a hack job. Nearly every author seems to be in the game for the love of the thing.

What I found pleasing is that at number three came the man who would always get my vote as the greatest ever English man (or woman). I speak of course of William Shakespeare!