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"Napoleon in Historical Fiction" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 9:58 p.m. PST

"Earlier I looked at Napoleon in alternate history, of which Napoleon in America is one example. The books on that list are also examples of Napoleon in historical fiction. This week I'll delve more into that category.

While a vast number of novels are set in the Napoleonic era, relatively few have Napoleon as the main character. There are at least four challenges facing anyone who wants to write historical fiction about Napoleon…"
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Gazzola14 Feb 2020 4:02 a.m. PST

I think authors should try to stick to writing about fictional characters who are set during whatever historical period the stories are set in. They are fine and usually work okay when an author uses fictional characters (eg; Sharpe etc) who they try to convince us with their narrative on how they think and why they undertake various actions within a variety of plots, usually invented by the author. That's why we accept Sharpe captured an eagle etc. We know it wasn't true. However, when it comes to the main historical characters, such as Napoleon or Wellington, like anyone else, whatever they write and create will obviously be influenced by their own viewpoints, intentionally or unintentionally. Its the same with films, with real historical characters usually very stereotyped. Very few pass the acceptable level.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 11:25 a.m. PST



MaggieC7014 Feb 2020 2:20 p.m. PST

Unfortunately, the vast majority of authors who write about fictional characters set during the Napoleonic era still manage to botch up details, from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous, so that readers who know anything about the period give up in disgust.

One of the most recent examples of historical garbage is "The Queen's Fortune" by Allison Pataki, the former NY governor's daughter who thinks she can write. This novel is allegedly about Napoleon, Desiree Clary, and Bernadotte. It fails on so many levels that I lost count, but suffice it to say it has nothing to do with historical reality.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 2:28 p.m. PST

>>We know it wasn't true.

But for the 0.001% that doesn't matter. The rest buying books couldn't care less. In the past, like wine tasting, some people have been 'directed' to a better product.
;-) d

Nine pound round14 Feb 2020 3:28 p.m. PST

For my money, nobody ever did it better than the late lamented George MacDonald Fraser. His portrait of Wellington in "Flashman" feels right- and he kept it brief, so he never lost the ring of plausibility.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 11:57 a.m. PST

I like Historical novels… and I'm sure I'm not alone on that…


Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 2:48 p.m. PST

I like the Time Bandits depiction of Napoleon.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 9:34 p.m. PST



Arcane Steve17 Feb 2020 5:13 a.m. PST

It's a well known fact that Napoleon cheated at 10 pin bowling….

YouTube link

huevans01117 Feb 2020 7:29 a.m. PST


"Les Amours Romantiques" – about Napoleon's campaigns in the bedroom!

Green S Limey18 Feb 2020 8:29 a.m. PST

I also enjoy reading Historical fiction, especially if historically accurate and written by someone widely read in contemporary writings and and literature from his chosen period, and thereby able to strike a convincingly contemporary note for example Patrick O'Brien, R.F. Delderfield and George Macdonald Fraser. However the most enjoyable novel featuring Napoleon I have ever read is Science Fiction, rather than Historical, however. It is:
[italic/] Napoleon Disentimed[/italic],by Hayford Peirce(published by Tor Books in 1987). its central character is a suave resourcefuland utterly unprincipled conman from Bangor, Maine, who for the purpose of gulling unsuspecting Yankees styles himself, as the whim takes him, either Sir Kevin Deane de Courtney, Knight Escutcheon of the Order of the Primrose and Senior Equerry to the Queen or ‘the MacNair of MacNair'

Accidentally transported to a parallel, counter-factual universe in which the French empire established by Napoleon extends across the whole of Europe, including Britain, whose armiesNapoleon crushed in the battle of the Cotswolds Encirclement, before placing a member of his family on the throne. in this new universe the Mcnair, who bears a startlingly close physical resemblance to the original Napoleon is seized upon by British and German anti-\French Resistance groups and transported back in time to take the place of his doppleganger and prevent the establishment of the French hegemony, a task his skills as a confidence trickster enable him to complete successfully. In the process, in order to make life in early 19th-century France more tolerable he uses his 20th-century knowledge to ‘invent' the indoor flush toilet and the méthode champenoise


the book is clever, witty and light-hearted. I recommend it whole-heartedly to everyone.. Hard-core Bonapartistes, however, may find it insufficiently reverential to the Great Man's legacy.


Robert le Diable18 Feb 2020 7:26 p.m. PST

G M Fraser was indeed one of the best writers of historical adventure (deliberately avoiding "fiction") and the points about Wellington's appearances were well made. There's a film involving Napoleon and, again, a double/doppelgänger, in which the sale of vegetables from hand-carts is significant (avoiding giving away any plot), and I found it quietly satisfying, but the portrayal of Napoleon in one of the Bill and Ted movies confirms every stereotype.

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