On April 20, Thierry Brun, author of the novel “The Chinese Shadow of Napoleon” was at the Cercle National des Armées (75008) to present his work on the last years of Napoleon’s life.
Many guests had responded favorably to the invitation of the mayor of the 8th arrondissement, Jeanne d’Hauteserre and Thierry de la Croix, founder of Éditions de Maule. We could recognize SAIR Joachim Murat, great-great nephew of the Emperor, Princess Maria del Pilar Murat, Massimo Gargia who awarded the author the prize “The Best” Pierre-Jean Chalençon or Laurent Amar. This ceremony was the occasion for a signing session.
Why this novel?
We note the presence of 646 Chinese in Ste Hélène when Napoleon was imprisoned by the English, following his second abdication and his defeat at Waterloo. From 1805 until his death in 1821, he resided at Longwood House in the Geranium Valley and had 23 Chinese servants (gardener, cook, etc…). Constantly watched, he wrote his memoirs and his will, wondering what would become of “his” Chinese.
While St. Helena was a strategic point on the road to the East, he granted audiences to various dignitaries, among whom was the English ambassador, Lord Amherst who, on his return from China, spoke to him about this great country that he just visited. It was on this occasion that Napoleon would utter his famous line: …When China awakes, the world will tremble!”, referring to its large population and its expansion through international trade.
Sent by the Emperor of China Jiaxing to spy on England, Chen Ji becomes Napoleon’s spy and Yi Lian his last love. The Corsican Cipriani becomes head of the Longwood intelligence network.
This year, Thierry Brun decides to go to the island of Elba to follow the last steps of the Emperor. He is accompanied by SAIR Joachim Murat, surgeon friends and makes a film about his trip. The day before their arrival, the local newspaper announced their presence there. They also had the chance to stay in the apartments of Las Cases and Burgaud and dine in the dining room of the Emperor. It was also an opportunity to meet Mrs Barbara Desgeorges, the only person to have studied on the Chinese in the archives of Ste Hélène and whose husband is one of the descendants of the Chinese of Ste Hélène.
Who is Thierry Brun?
Thierry Brun, medical biologist, former Head of Clinic of the Bacteriology Department of Cochin Hospital in Paris participated in the discovery and study of the first mutant bacteria resistant to beta-lactamase inhibitors.
Having worked on the medical file of Napoleone Buonaparte, based on testimonies of contemporaries, he made the trip to better understand the life of the Emperor during his last 6 years in captivity. We thus discover Longwood House, its garden, its furniture but also the first tomb of Napoleon before his transfer to France, to the Invalides, on October 14, 1840. The English and the French having a diverging opinion, the tomb remains bare. At Ste Hélène, the tomb is surrounded by a palisade of tarred wood.
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