For those of us who find, in the writings of Karl Marx, an endless source of inspiration and enlightenment, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, despite its now somewhat antiquarian interest, holds a special place in our hearts. It is hard, after all, to resist a book that begins, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Marx, who was thirty-three when the great Napoleon’s grandson, Louis Napoleon, seized control of France and proclaimed himself Napoleon
If the truth be told, I have never given a great deal of thought to that mid-nineteenth century upheaval, beyond what I could gather from Marx’s densely written analysis of the events, but I did take away from the text the general sense that Louis Napoleon was an egregious clown. Was this a fair and balanced assessment of the man? Frankly, it never seemed to matter very much to me. I was content to leave it to French revisionist historians to produce reassessments of the man and his regime.
Well, the day before yesterday, Susie went to a lecture at a pricey assisted living community that is part of the larger
I started yesterday evening to read David H. Pinkney’s 1958 monograph, Napoleon
I do not for a moment doubt that Marx’s estimation of the man as the protector of bourgeois