Napoleon: For and Against

By Pieter Geyl; Olive Renier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
ARTHUR - LÉVY POLEMIC AGAINST TAINE

In 1892 appeared a book which is still popular, Arthur-Lévy Napoléon intime.1 Unlike Houssaye's volumes, it extends over the whole career, and is designedly polemical and defensive. The book exudes a certain charm, yet at the same time it continually provokes the reader. For Arthur-Lévy really goes too far. His Napoleon is amiability itself. If he had a fault it was that of excessive kindness. So anxious is the writer to depict the humanity that he overlays the greatness with homely touches -- about his relationship with his mother and brothers, with Joséphine, and later even with the Hapsburg archduchess. The whole is supported with a wealth of quotations. If the resulting somewhat mawkish picture is laid beside that of Taine, one is inclined to wonder if the two writers are dealing with the same man. The contrast is instructive as to the possibilities of partisan representation open to the historian through selection from superabundant material.


MME DE STAË.L AND MME DE RÉMUSAT

The first aim of Arthur-Lévy, with whose later work, Napoléon et la Paix, equally the antithesis of Taine, I shall discuss further on, was no doubt to refute the representation, in the famous 'portrait', of an inhuman, or, if I may so call it, a non-human Napoleon. Like Prince Napoleon he attacks the crown-witnesses, Mme de Staël and Mme de Rémusat. What he says about them had already been said or hinted innumerable times, and was to be endlessly repeated.

Mme de Staël's initial enthusiasm for the victor of Lodi and Arcole and for the man of Brumaire, followed, as I have previously told, by disappointment and hostility, he reduces by slight touches to the story of a tiresome, ambitious woman pursuing a celebrity, who keeps her at arm's length, not without some asperity; this the

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1
The edition in the "'Nelson Library'" is somewhat shortened, and what is more unfortunate, the sources have been omitted.

-169-

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Napoleon: For and Against
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface - To the First Dutch Edition 7
  • Part One - The Antithesis at the Beginning 13
  • Chapter I - Chateaubriand 17
  • Chapter II - Madame de StaËl 19
  • Chapter III - The Napoleonic Legend 23
  • Part Two - The First Chroniclers 33
  • Chapter I - M. Mignet 35
  • Chapter II - Baron Bignon 37
  • Chapter III - Armand Lefebvre 45
  • Chapter IV - Adolphe Thiers 53
  • Part Three - Reaction against the Legend 69
  • Chapter I - Jules Barni 73
  • Chapter II - Edgar Quinet 77
  • Chapter III - Pierre Lanfrey 86
  • Chapter IV - Comte D'Haussonville 106
  • Chapter V - Hippolyte Taine 133
  • Part Four - Admirers 149
  • Chapter I - Prince Napoleon 156
  • Chapter II - Henry Houssaye 160
  • Chapter III - Arthur - LÉVy Polemic against Taine 169
  • Chapter IV - FrÉDÉric Masson 177
  • Chapter V - Count Albert Vandal 230
  • Part Five - The Problem of Foreign Policy 233
  • Chapter I - Old Acquaintances 235
  • Chapter II - Emile Bourgeois 241
  • Chapter III - Two More Old Acquaintances 250
  • Chapter IV - Albert Sorel 254
  • Chapter V - Edouard Driault 308
  • Part Six - The Antithesis at the End 349
  • Chapter 1 356
  • Chapter II - A. L. GuÉrard 362
  • Chapter Ill - G. Pariset 364
  • Chapter IV - Jules Isaac 371
  • Chapter V - Charles Seignobos 373
  • Chapter VI - Jacques Bainville 376
  • Chapter VII - Louis Madelin 390
  • Chapter VIII - Gabriel Hanotaux 403
  • Chapter IX - Georges Lefebvre 446
  • Chronological Table 451
  • Index 465
  • Index of Authors 475
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