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Literature (Napoleon's World)

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Important Pieces of Literature (film, poetry, plays and novels) from 1815 and onward.

Napoleonic Era 1815-1844

Industrial Era 1844-1890

Literature

  • The Son - Penned by Seymour Arens, one of the greatest 19th century French authors and philosophers, the book is the basis upon which much of the historical knowledge of the War of Napoleonic Succession is built. Similar in its influence on our interpretation of history as Julius Caesar and, in more contemporary setting, Tital, Arens' massive 1860 novel is more or less regarded as somewhat embellished historical fact. Its portrayal of its anti-hero, the reluctant, weak Emperor Napoleon II, is the portrayal that most historians view the oft-misunderstood monarch through. The novel begins on February 3rd, 1844 - at Napoleon I's funeral - and ends with Napoleon II's death in 1849. While his brief and doomed war with his younger brother Louis is a central piece of the plot (for obvious reasons) the novel is more of a character study than anything else. Napoleon's dealings with the Churat are detailed, and his insecurities and his tempestuous, vile-filled relationship with his wife is almost more important than the civil war itself - in fact, no battle scene is ever depicted. Napoleon does not really want the throne of France, but his manipulative Churat advisors and his fear of veteran war hero Robert Legrange eventually begins the doomed cycle he is headed upon. The Son is considered one of the crowning pieces of 19th century literature.
  • The Brothers Boubichon - Seymour Arens wrote his third masterpiece in 1867, after several years abroad. The story is written in a much simpler tongue as an adventure story, but while it is a precursor to the modern thriller, the book is also a meditative piece on revenge, duplicity and human nature. The protagonist, Robert Boubichon, returns to his family home in Marseille from many years in America and Canada with a small fortune and finds that his twin brother, the Vicomte Alexander Boubichon, has been missing for months. A brief investigation later finds that his brother was murdered at a remote chalet in the Alps. When learning that he himself has been thought dead for years, Robert assumes his brother's identity and travels to Paris to find out who murdered him and to exact revenge upon them.

Modern Era 1890-1940

Literature

  • Hubris - By Wilhelm Diess, published in 1920, the first of the Diess Works was in every aspect a modern tragedy, the kind Diess excelled in. Hubris tells the story of Raymond St. Claire, a French Foreign Legionary stationed in French West Africa. St. Claire's observations of boredom in the Sahara permeate the slow-moving novel; his philosophical musings and banter with fellow soldiers is critical to the fabric of the work. He enters a romance with a local prince's niece, and befriends the fiefdom that, unfortunately, the French Empire's Malian allies are at war with. St. Claire eventually chooses his country over his true love, Abika, and betrays her home to the Imperial forces. In the closing pages, St. Claire considers his sacrifice and debates whether or not it was worth it. He sees Abika's body float down the Niger River along with her slain family, and turns away coldly, living with the guilt forever more. The book is significant in that although the hero does not die, as in Diess's other works, St. Claire is left miserable in his knowledge that he is responsible for throwing away his love for Abika when he could have saved her, and convinced the army to spare her. Diess was never happy with Hubris, and wrote in a 1932 essay that he wished he had burned the manuscript.
  • Otto - By Wilhelm Diess, published in 1924, was the second entry into the Diess Works, and is the longest and most surreal of them. Written in almost prosaic language, is the 1,200 page tragedy of a German industrialist named Otto Klein. Over the course of the book, Klein sinks deeper and deeper into his own greed. He at one point sends his beloved son Johan off to boarding school, and when learning that Johan has drowned he responds by asking for a refund from the school itself. Klein's Jewish faith plays an integral role in the development of the character and the plot; Diess did extensive research into the culture of Rhineland's considerable Jewish population. At the end of the tragedy, Klein is alone. His granddaughter Monika comes to him to ask him to attend her wedding, despite the fact that she is the product of Klein prostituting her mother in exchange for the purchase of a railroad company and has been raised to hate him. Klein comes to the wedding, cries when he sees how beautiful it is, and dies in his sleep as Monika and her new husband begin their new life together.
  • Tital - Wilhelm Diess's third great work, published in 1928, is based largely on a true story. The book's primary events revolve around the 1925 coup known as the Iron Revolution, which brought Albert I to power. The book is undertitled "A Tragedy of Two Brothers," concerning the complex relationship between Pierre and George Tital, and their upbringing under one-time Interior Minister Francois Tital. The novel is structured out of chronological order; it opens with the famous death of Pierre Tital on September 7th, 1925, and ends with George Tital delivering his brother's eulogy a whole 865 pages later. It is a fierce political critique of the Iron Revolution, although Diess's portrayal of the toppled and killed Napoleon III is that of an obscenely weak leader. It is also a character study in the two Tital brothers; one who becomes a martyr, despite his apparent character flaws, and one who despite encouragement to loathe him (Diess heavily implies but never accuses George Tital of betraying his brother to the Churat) is portrayed a sympathetic family man. Pierre's farewell to his wife as she flees to America and George's double-meaning eulogy are considered two of the best passages of 20th century literature.
  • Oktober - Wilhelm Diess's final work, published posthumously in 1933, was about the violent Oktoberkreig in eastern Europe. The main hero is simply named Dmitri, a Ukrainian peasant who, along with his Jewish lover Rebeka, are caught up in a 1,045 page whirlwind of war, strife and numerous attempts to reconcile. In the end, after being raped several times throughout the book by Imperial soldiers, her brother, Russian guerrillas and a priest, Rebeka kills herself after giving birth to a bastard son. It is revealed, however, that the son is in fact Dmitri's. Dmitri gives his brother Ada his young son Sasha and tells him to keep him safe. Dmitri is, in turn, killed in battle a few days later. Ada, as it turns out, is the narrator of the tale, telling Sasha of his father's story. Oktober was banned in the Empire despite the fact that it portrays the guerrillas as equally vicious to the Imperial soldiers; it is a criticism of war itself as opposed to the Oktoberkreig. Diess was killed in a suspicious car accident in 1932 while editing Oktober at his home in Philadelphia.

Post-Modern Era 1940-1980

Literature

  • Toy Soldiers - A classic 1947 Russian-language novel about the French Civil War that explores the reasons behind the destructive conflict. The novel digs deeper into the social fabric of 1930's Eastern Europe (post-Oktoberkreig) with its hero, Pavel. Pavel is a poor Russian widower with a young son, Yuri, and works for a major Russian company that builds guns. Pavel compares the assembly of guns to the assembly of toys. When the European Alliance is formed and the heavy infighting in Russia begins, Pavel joins the Sebastienite forces, and is recruited by Grigoriy Roskov himself to lead the inspection of weapons and their quality. Pavel excels in his work, and though the book never actually shows a battlefield, it still explores the nuances of the early French Civil War in Russia. It was critically acclaimed in Russia and in France, where it was published in French in 1948. Emperor Sebastien recognized it as a work supportive of his effots in the bloody war, and often remarked that it was one of his favorite books. The author, Aleksandr Edmonev, compared the tone of the book to the surrealist works of the early 20th century, and remarked that he wanted to write in a style considerably different from that of Diess, who was considered the greatest contemporary writer at that time. The book was made into films in France in 1952, 1977 and 2001, and in America as Pavel the Toymaker in 1958 and 1996.
  • The Martin Jones Series - The literary portion of the Martin Jones series falls as a post-Modern work, although the television and film aspects continue into modern day. The Martin Jones character is one of the most successful and well-known around the world and is a 20th century franchise icon. William Hamilton's famous freedom fighter appeared in 24 full-lenghth books published between 1958 and 1983, when Hamilton died; and Hamilton also wrote nealry 53 short stories about Jones. The final book, Sea Star, and the last short story collection were posthumously published in 1984. Martin Jones is a one-man fighting machine, who goes on a never-ending series of improbable adventures during and after the English Anarchy. While Hamilton originally penned the Jones character to be a folk hero of good in the violent, immoral Anarchy years, he later became a symbol of England's resurgence; in later years, Jones traveled on adventures around the world, on missions as varied as finding lost treasure to hunting down dangerous threats to England.

Theater

  • Pretty Boy - This 1970 musical is possibly one of the most controversial - and ingenious - pieces of social satire ever written. Ed Gene and Nick Harley had written several Broadway pieces before Pretty Boy; they had already won awards for You There and With such an impressive repertoire, their secretive production, which was closed to even critics before opening night and thus built enormous hype, shocked, disgusted and stunned the world in 1970. The musical, which ran for about three hours, was essentially a camp comedy about the Iron Revolution in France, and made a spectacle and mockery of the horror of the violent 1925 coup. The titular character, the Pretty Boy, is Albert I, and rousing song and dance routines go along with graphic assassinations and murders played out on stage. The final number "Here's to you, Pretty Boy" is an encore that includes tanks, explosions, the reenacted bludgeoning death of Christopher Morreau and other senseless acts of violence. The play was panned by a number of critics who found the exploitation of a violent tragedy tasteless and crude, although others saw the genius behind Pretty Boy. The character of Francois Baptiste is played as a flamboyant homosexual, Grand Marshall Cerf is portrayed as mentally disabled and Albert himself earns his name of Pretty Boy - never being referred to as Albert in the entire musical - from constantly absorbing himself in his appearance. In France, the Sebastienite government banned the exhibition of the play or distribution of the script, and even liberal critics were horribly offended by the mockery of one of France's darkest hours. Even today, while the social commentary and stinging satire is celebrated outside the Empire, the over-the-top camp written into the play - as well as its offensive portrayal of women, disabled persons, Jews, gays and the French culture as a whole - is often roundly cited as a reason why Pretty Boy is one of the most controversial musicals ever written and performed.

Film

  • Oahu - This 1962 film was famous film actor Jack Kennedy's directorial debut, which had been a pet project of his for years. It was based on a script he and screenwriters George Morley and Alan Flynn had written together during the late 1950's, during the growing craze of patriotic, joyfully American war movies. Oahu is the story of six American soldiers - Jim, Skipper, Eddie, Hank, John and Flick - fighting against the Asian Powers on the island of Oahu during the 1926 Battle of Hawaii. The film lasted nearly three and a half hours (it included an intermission) and was filmed in Hawaii and on Cuba, and was also one of the most expensive American films ever made. Throughout the film, the characters are subjected to the horrors of war, the onslaught of the enemy and the eventual inevitably of death and defeat. The film was critically praised, and was the highest grossing film of all time until the release of the first Star Wars film in 1981. The film went on to win nine Academy Awards (including Best Picture an Best Director for Kennedy) and for several years afterwards, the war movie craze died off, since no film could top the standard set by Oahu. The National Motion Picture Association rated Oahu as the 3rd best American film ever made.
  • Thieves - This 1974 film is notable as it launched the careers of several of its actors (Roger Moore, Jill Hanson, Charlie Rhimer, and Jack Germaine) into superstardom in the United States, and is also considered French actor Ricard Redeau's last great film, albeit an English-language picture. The movie's plot is relatively straightforward; an American art collector plots, along with an aging mercenary, to rob France's Imperial Museum in 1968. The mercenary (Germaine) recruits a bunch of old English guerrillas he fought with in the English Adventure to help him with the clever caper. The movie set a new standard for caper films, which were growing in popularity during the 60's. However, the meddling of French policeman Egare (Redeau) complicates the plot, and the thieves begin to gradually turn on each other. Thieves was the most successful film of the 1970's, and won four Academy Awards (although it did not qualify for Best Picture, not even being nominated). For years, it was one of the most talked-about movies in the world; Thieves was the first true globally significant motion picture.

Information Age 1980-Present

Film

  • Martin Jones Franchise - The popularity of the Martin Jones books launched first the television series on ETV between 1968 and 1971, starring Roger Moore as the titular English guerrilla; in 1974, Moore starred in a feature film adaptation of his Jones character, and would appear in the subsequent 1978 and 1980 sequels. The financial success of the Martin Jones trilogy was not lost on the producers, and despite a wealth of stories to draw from, Moore declined a return to the role for the planned 1982 incarnation, Martin Jones and the Suffolk Man. The movie was scrapped until Jim Ames took over the role in 1985 for a very different film, merely titled The Vicar and the Virgin, based on one of the most successful books in the series. The new Jones movie, filmed completely detached from the style of the show or from Moore's portrayal of the character, was the most successful English-made film in history and the highest grossing movie of 1985. Ames took the role as his own in 1987's Death Train, 1989's Red Hawk, and 1991's Hippolytus Project. Ames was offered a fifth film, but turned it down for a chance to go to Hollywood to act on the successful TV show Nova Scotia. Sean Bean was attached thus to 1993's Crystal Village, and it was the least-successful Jones film to date. Nevertheless, the producers returned with Bean in 1996 to put out Deception, which outgrossed The Vicar and the Virgin and made Bean a household name. Bean would return for three more Jones films, of which his most well-known after Deception was 2000's The Irish Defector. After 2002's , there was a hiatus in production of new films. Bean would walk away from the series as the production team struggled to decide where they wanted to take the series, which many felt had overextended itself away from its roots with Breath. Daniel Craig signed on to play Jones in the 2005 incarnation I'm Jones, which was based largely on an unfinished manuscript by Hamilton and the pieced-together bits of Jones's background; it was an origin story, tied back all the way to the beginning of the Anarchy. Craig played the character with a measure of seriousness in the far-more somber and dark reboot, and returned for two equally critically and commercially successful films in 2007 and 2009. Craig has announced that he will appear in a fourth Jones movie, this one set several years later, in 2011.

Literature

  • Our Story - Published in three volumes (1995, 1996, and 1997), the Our Story saga is, to say the least, a modern American epic - totaled together, all three volumes contain a combined 2,231 pages. It tells the story of several generations of blacks living in or around Covenant, Arkansas, through the city's colorful and tumultous history. It starts in 1870 with a slave, Tom Jackson, arriving in Covenant with his master, and follows Jackson's line all the way down through the darkest days of Covenant's bloody rise to become a major urban center. It includes the famous Boss Bobby who ran the Covenant crime rings of the 1920's and 30's, it describes the horror of loss in war, the promise of the Southern Reformists, the rise of the civil rights movement in the 1960's and 70's, the dark days of the 1980's (nearly three hundred pages are devoted to teh Covenant race riot alone) and finally hope and promise for the future, ending on a promising note of William Cosby's legacy, the epic's narrative concluding in 1993. The author, Raymond Bean, won numerous literary awards for the bestselling epic and saw two miniseries adaptations made and a 2006 film, all three still unable to cover the wealth of story within the three volume-epic.

Television

  • Dick - The award-winning TV-series enters its ninth and final season in 2010, having held its place as one of the truly great, intricate dramas of the early 21st century. The show is largely about Dick Van Dyke, the 34th President of the United States who served between 1965 and 1973, although the secondary characters of his administration are equally important, as are the cultural and political issues prevalent in this era. The series was noted for its stellar acting and writing, and accurate attention to detail from that era. Show creator Justin Burroughs has announced that the final season will concern Van Dyke's unusual Senate campaign while he was still President in 1972 and the final episode will feature the inauguration of Clyde Dawley, his successor. Critics have noted that the quality of the show has declined over recent years following the departure of Andy Garcia, who played National Party strategist and Machiavellian manipulator Anthony Nicci. The cast carries several high-end names even though Garcia is no longer on the show (which the actor agreed with, feeling that the historical basis to Nicci's fall from grace would make it appropriate for him to leave the program), most notably John Travolta, who assumed the role of Van Dyke's second and more memorable Vice President, Tom Heaps, during the fourth season.

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