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Napoleon: The Song of Departure

by Max Gallo

The use of the present tense throughout creates a dynamic, breathless feel. The narration has just enough political background to explain Napoleon's mood changes, but it is supremely the man himself, the man apart from others, the man of action, who comes alive.

Extract

It is all in vain; no one budges. Finding himself in the Capiteu Tower, at the tip of the Bay of Ajaccio, where he has taken refuge with a few men, Napoleon looks down on the city of his birth. He knows that this is the end of a part of his life. He is going to be twenty-four, and from now on his destiny can only be bound up with France: his family have no other means than his captain's wage. Joseph and Lucien will only be able to find a job in France, perhaps with Saliceti's help.

This is where his Corsican illusion comes to an end.

Translated by William Hobson

Parallels

The Seventh Son by Reay Tannahill
Alexander: The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield
The Alexiad by Princess Anna Comnena
 

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