We have our first entry to our Napoleon competition as mentioned on episode #46! This entry is from Simon Walter from Duesseldorf who writes:
My name’s Simon, I’m 20 years old and studying History and English in Duesseldorf (which is – of course – where Heinrich Heine, who was a great admirer of NapolÃ©on, was born); aside of my studies (I just started one month ago) I’m totally into poetry and if there’s any chance to establish my passion as financial basis of my life, I’ll certainly go for it. My first play (‘Menschenfelder’ – only available in german so far) was published in August and I’m storing alot of stuff on my blog (http://simonjustuswalter.blogsport.de – mostly german too). How I got into Napoleonic History, I cannot really recall; we didn’t cover the subject in school (or at least I don’t remember anything) but I internalized the idea of NapolÃ©on as a great and positive force for human history very early in life. When I was 18 I got hold of two biographies and even though they were obviously intended to be critical of NapolÃ©ons career, they encouraged me to research this mysterious’ mans life further and I eventually ended up discovering your podcast (around episode ~30); since then I’ve been nothing but enthusiastic. I’ve not been to France yet but one of my primary goals in life is to visit Paris and in fact follow the very route NapolÃ©on took after his return from Elba, before my 30th birthday; I have however read a tremendous amount of literature on NapolÃ©on and visited Schloss Arenenberg this summer (which is where Hortense and her son, the later NapolÃ©on III. lived – they have a very nice museum up there and are rebuilding the beautiful park at the moment), getting more and more absorbed into this outstanding and unique life. What fascinates me the most – finally getting to the subject; no idea whether I’ve already crossed the 200-words-line) is NapolÃ©ons steadiness. I think you, Cameron, defined this feeling once as the constant question “What would NapolÃ©on do?”, which, for myself, is not bound to concrete situations, but in fact a greater scheme to approach life successfully. When I wrote my play during the last three years I’d often encounter moments where I felt like “Man, you are just 18/19/20, what’s it all about? Go out and have some fun” or “Nobody will read it anyway, why don’t you spend your time on more practical matters?” and always I somehow found myself confronted with the image of NapolÃ©on and knew I had to stay firm. It’s not like “Oh, I don’t know what to do – What would NapolÃ©on do?” but in fact a way of mastering the everlasting doubts of life; his career, his accomplishments, his glory tell me, that everyone has the power to make his very dreams come true, that everyone can accomplish whatever he or she is aiming for, as long as one stands firm and doesn’t lose trust in him-/herself.
NapolÃ©on will always be there; in fact I’m surrounded by four images of the emperor right now (no originals obviously; all printed out and framed by myself) and when I celebrated my namesday (no idea whether this is common in Australia) on Tuesday, my parents presented me a little golden bell, showing an ancient battle scene, the emperor standing on top in his familiar gesture. I could write so much more about the ideas NapolÃ©on granted me, about the way he has influenced my lyrical projects and will do so in the forseeable future, about how I decided to learn french as a tribute to his input to my life or how his quotes use to touch and inspire me.
However, I think this has gone far beyond the intended 200 words (600+, I just checked) and I’ll therefore come to an end; I just want to add how very grateful I am towards David and you for putting so much time and passion into an excellent show; I’ve never really contributed on the website and this is the very first e-mail I write to you, so obviously I have to make up for quite a bit. Keep up your good work and may the imperial eagle protect you.