The Ashes of Napoleon
Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo, quipped the French dramatist Jean Cocteau. If that is so, how crazy did Napoleon have to be in order to think he was Napoleon? Making oneself the supreme French writer of the 19th century may have required an immense capacity for self-aggrandizement; becoming the very embodiment of French glory and the greatest man of action since Julius Caesar-getting a million of his countrymen to die for his name and causing the death of four million others–called for a sense of ordained magnificence beside which even the most monumental egotism pales.
About the Author
Algis Valiunas writes on culture and politics for COMMENTARY and other magazines. His "Goethe’s Magnificent Self" appeared in January.