Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

relics of the Emperor: a Vulpes Random

Napoleon, by Antoine-Jean Gros

Napoleon, by Antoine-Jean Gros

Napoleon had a very military, triumphant, public life. Most of the paintings that celebrate his life say nothing about informality, private emotions, or give any sense of the man rather that the driving ambition. Those were not what public art was for, unlike these immense and magnificent paintings featured on the Napoleon research organisation website,

As a nice realistic contrast to the glorified fantasy of Napoleon’s rule, have a look at these plain, ordinary and very tough Martello Towers, built to defend the south coast of England from his assumed invasion, the one that never happened.






This one is from Dymchurch, a seaside village that Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his short story ‘Dymchurch Flit’, when the fairies of Britain wanted to leave because they weren’t wanted any longer, and used Dymchurch as their escape route. He also wrote about the Napoleonic wars, but obliquely, in ‘Brother Square-Toes’. It’s 1793, and Pharoah Lee is a half-French, half-English smuggler who falls into a French warship in Channel fog, and ends up in the United States of America, where he meets the exceedingly dangerous French ambassador who is hoping to persuade George Washington that America would be better off helping the French, rather than the English. There’s  a nice cameo there of Napoleon, a petulant, sulky powerhouse of a commander, who can be defied by only the very brave. Read all about it here, in the Rudyard Kipling Society’s Readers’ Guides to his stories.



About Kate

Blogger, lecturer, podcaster, writer, critic, reviewer, researcher, and publisher (, in and on British literary history. Preferred occupation while listening to podcasts: cooking or knitting. Preferred soundtrack while reading: the sound of silence.

One comment on “relics of the Emperor: a Vulpes Random

  1. Jackie
    April 28, 2014

    That was interesting and am looking forward to exploring those websites,which are new to me. In the first pic of your post, he looks quite handsome, as well as tall, so a bit of a fantasy all around?

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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