A Word from the Editor
This September will mark the 500th anniversary of the French victory at Marignano, but I am not aware of any planned festivities. On the other hand this spring has seen and will continue to see commemorations of the Hundred Days, including a mammoth re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo of 18 June 1815 at the site itself. Conferences are being held, exhibitions have been mounted, even the play Le souper had its revival, and so it seems fitting to end this year with reviews of works set during the Hundred Days.
Waterloo being the biggest buzz, it is under this rubric that Charles Esdaile offers his comments on the 1970 film directed by Sergey Bondarchuck, starring “the best Napoleon ever” Rod Steiger. Esdaile takes us into the heart of the battle and, with unmatched expertise, explains what the director did right and got wrong, and laments the fact that no “director’s cut” exists of the original four-hour version.
In Maybe Missed, Philip Dwyer addresses Le Souper, Jean-Claude Brisville’s 1989 play, brought to the screen in 1992 by Edouard Molinaro. The tête à tête between Fouché and Talleyrand on 6 July 1815 to settle the fate of the Bourbons makes for lively theatre but plays havoc with the facts. You can judge for yourselves on You tube. And you will want to see the film after reading this review.
It was a great thrill when Alan Forrest agreed to review Louis Aragon’s La Semaine Sainte, a meandering 850-page novel that recreates the confusion caused by Napoleon’s arrival in Paris on 19 March 1815 and the Bourbon Court’s flight to Ghent. Loyalties are not only tested but their very meaning questioned. Warning to the casual reader: the novel only made sense to me after I read Emmanuel de Waresquiel’s brilliant Cent jours, la tentation de l’impossible.
University at Buffalo, SUNY
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