- Aug 2010
- Welsh Marches
Any reasonable educated person in Britian will know something about Napoleon. That debate was mounted and under that title held because Andrew Roberts (who has something of an obsession with 'great men') wrote a eulogistic book about Napoleon called 'Napoleon the Great', and someone had the idea that it might be fun to put him head to head with Adam Zamoyski, who is the author of very fine books on Napoleon's invasion of Russia and the Congress of Vienna, and has just written a life of Napoleon which presents a more disabused image of him. In the debate the extremely suave Zamoyski engages in some very amusing trolling of Roberts' admiring simplicities, the whole thing is a riot but hardly a very serious historical discussion. Roberts is extremely English, incidentally, while the 'anti-Napoleonic' Zamoyski is a first generation British citizen who holds joint Polish nationality and has devoted himself to Continental history. I haven't read his book on Napoleon, but his view of him is really more nuanced than that debate would suggest. In reviewing somwone else's book on him, he starts: "Writing about Napoleon is a risky business. It exposes the author to the brickbats of the blind worshippers for whom he is a numinous hero and the equally challenged detractors who see in him only the petty tyrant. By the same token, most historians find themselves negotiating a slippery path between approval and censure of this most contorversial and somehow still very relevant figure".Hey, mate, that's not the impression one gets when you read some Historum posts, this weird topic thread attests to that....
That said, I don't know the British people, and you certainly know them much better than I do.
Moreover you mentioned a source which supports your statements, therefore it is logical to admit that I must have been wrong on this point and that the Brits are not, on the whole, obssessed by Nappy only a few erudites are at least if we believe this strange debate on the subject in which we see Adam Zamoyski explain that Napoleon "led only a few battles" and British wonder if Napoleon can be considered as "great":
It's strange to see British people asking questions like that about a foreign historical figure.
We do not see Greeks wondering if Cromwell should be considered like this or that or Italians asking themselves this kind of question about Tsar Nicholas?
After all, why not? Let's be cool.
That said, too, dude, Napoleon's international fame in the world seems very important and we see it regularly mentioned and caricatured in the press.
That's why, buddy, I'm having trouble relating a deep disinterest of the British people shown in the poll quoted and that kind of thing...
This kind of cliché seems very common in the international press :
As regards modern attitudes to Napoleon in England, I find that people in England like to make fun of the Napoleon cult propagated by those 'blind worshippers', which is much in evidence in this forum and has its British adherents too, but are not in the grip of any earnest black legend which serves as some sort of foundation for national identity.