Book Analysis: Death of Napoleon

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  • Topic: Comedy, The Unanswered Question, Empathy
  • Pages : 3 (931 words )
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  • Published : October 29, 2012
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The “Death of Napoleon” by Simon Leys, foresees the aftermath of Napoleon life if he were to escape from St Helena. Within the text, Simon Leys portrays Napoleon with dark humor, irony, mockery but also compassion and sympathy in certain areas. Leys novella however, has left many interpretations open from discussion, which can lead the original intention far away from what was first considered.

To begin with, Michael Thomas states that Leys' novella concerns itself with how elusive true identity can be. This is an agreeable view, indeed much of the text centers on the tension between Napoleon, the unlikely bald fritterer and his mythic counterpoint who obscures his companions from recognizing him. This duality of identity comes to a head, in the Chapter the Night Empire, when he is faced with a number of grotesque parodies of himself, who present an image of himself of greater likeness of Napoleon than himself. “ This miserable wreck presented an imagine of his model a thousand times more faithful, more worthy and more convincing than the unlikely bald fruiter who, seated beside him, was examining him with such amassment. Thomas asserts the novella exposes the folly of hero worship; this is shown amply throughout the text. The vanity of Napoleon's schemes is illustrated and the divide between the real Napoleon and the mythic Napoleon is displayed. With this in head, Leys presents Napoleon into three individualistic identities. The historical Napoleon, the fictional Napoleon and the true Napoleon. The historical Napoleon which empowers strength, vanity and power. The fictional Napoleon demonstrates nothing but the death of the physical Napoleon, which therefore leaves the true Napoleon to deal with the historical identity of his death.

Moreover, Peter Lockett states that in the Death of Napoleon the legend of Napoleon is far greater than the reality. This is a commendable view because it is so aptly evidenced in the scene where Napoleon encounters an...
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