Clisson and Eugnie, By Napoleon Bonaparte

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The Independent Culture

Yes, you read the author's name correctly. By the time he penned this almost Cartland-esque short romance of passion and sacrifice in 1795, the rising military star had been writing for a decade tales, essays, even a philosophical dialogue.

Probably inspired by the young Corsican officer's tendresse for a Provenal girl, his love story sees a dashing soldier woo the mysterious one of a pair of sisters. Clisson weds her and they have children but he leads a suicidal charge when beloved Eugnie grows cold.

Translated by Peter Hicks and analysed by Napoleonic historian Armand Cabasson, this eye-opening curiosity had a real-life sequel. In Italy in 1796, its author led such an attack at Arcole. His aide took the fatal Austrian bullet; the future emperor fell into a bog.