Napoleon Iii And His Regime: An Extravaganza (Modernist Studies)
Publish Date: 2000-11-01
Author: David Baguley
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Referred to in his time as the Pretender and the sphinx of the Tuileries , Louis Napoleon Bonaparte -- the nephew of Emperor Napoleon I of France and himself ruler of the Second Empire (1852-1870) -- so managed the manufacture of his public image and the masking of his private self that he is, ultimately, unknowable to this day. From the mysterious circumstances of his conception in 1807 to the strange events of his downfall in 1870 and death in 1873, he lived, loved, and reigned in an extraordinary aura of myth and fantasy under the shadow of his more famous uncle.
Taking a highly innovative approach to this intriguing historical figure, David Baguley entertains sources in a melange of media and forms -- pictures, performances, spectacles, rituals, music, fiction, poems, plays, architecture, fashion, as well as Louis Napoleon's own writings -- to explore how the ruler was represented, invented, and interpreted by detractors and defenders alike. Baguley examines works by, among many others, Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Emile Zola, Honore Daumier, Jacques Offenbach, Gustave Flaubert, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning that range from history and biography to romanticized versions of the Emperor's feats to parody, caricature, and satire.
While most historians consider Louis Napoleon's coup d'etat of December 1851 to be his boldest endeavor, Baguley shows in this expansive and eloquent work that his most extravagant venture was to found a second Napoleonic empire, and he illustrates not only the power of the name and the image but also the precariousness of the Emperor's reliance upon them.