Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226924588 Published December 2013
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226924595 Published December 2013

The Economy of Glory

From Ancien Régime France to the Fall of Napoleon

Robert Morrissey

Robert Morrissey

Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan
272 pages | 7 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2013
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226924588 Published December 2013
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226924595 Published December 2013
From the outset of Napoleon’s career, the charismatic Corsican was compared to mythic heroes of antiquity like Achilles, and even today he remains the apotheosis of French glory, a value deeply embedded in the country’s history. From this angle, the Napoleonic era can be viewed as the final chapter in the battle of the Ancients and Moderns. In this book, Robert Morrissey presents a literary and cultural history of glory and its development in France and explores the “economy of glory” Napoleon sought to implement in an attempt to heal the divide between the Old Regime and the Revolution.
Examining how Napoleon saw glory as a means of escaping the impasse of Revolutionary ideas of radical egalitarianism, Morrissey illustrates the challenge the leader faced in reconciling the antagonistic values of virtue and self-interest, heroism and equality. He reveals that the economy of glory was both egalitarian, creating the possibility of an aristocracy based on merit rather than wealth, and traditional, being deeply embedded in the history of aristocratic chivalry and the monarchy—making it the heart of Napoleon’s politics of fusion. Going beyond Napoleon, Morrissey considers how figures of French romanticism such as Chateaubriand, Balzac, and Hugo constantly reevaluated this legacy of glory and its consequences for modernity. Available for the first time in English, The Economy of Glory is a sophisticated and beautifully written addition to French history.
David Bell, Princeton University
“Robert Morrissey’s brilliant The Economy of Glory is a literary and cultural history of glory in France, focused on Napoleon, but taking in a great deal more. It engages profitably with cutting-edge cultural and literary history of the period, and it adds a great deal to our understanding of the history of glory in general, Napoleon’s regime, and the literature written in Napoleon’s shadow. This book is an enormously original, sophisticated, and beautifully written piece of work.”
Dan Edelstein, Stanford University
“In this intellectual epic, which charges across centuries and cultures, Robert Morrissey shows how, in Napoleonic times, glory was not simply a selfish pursuit, but the very spring of a regime struggling to synthesize revolutionary equality and aristocratic distinction.”
Nicholas Cronk, University of Oxford
“Napoleon is usually seen as marking a break with the past and as heralding a glorious new beginning. But, as Robert Morrissey shows in this absorbing study—beautifully translated from French by Teresa Lavender Fagan—Napoleon’s assertive modernity drew strength in great part from his strategic use of France’s glorious past. The concept of glory, gloire, has deep roots in the heroic traditions of Ancien Régime aristocracy, and by reinventing it in a meritocratic mould, it became possible in the Napoleonic era to bridge the political divide between Ancien Régime and Revolution. This is a study less of Napoleon the man than of his function within the French cultural landscape; as such, this brilliant analysis of the ‘Napoleon effect’ will be of interest to scholars of modern France as well as to those of the Ancien Régime.”
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