Author: [NAPOLEON]. CHAIR, Somerset de.
Publisher: London, Golden Cockerel Press, 1945
Two Volumes. One of 500 limited copies, this no. 192. Title page engraving and binding design by John Buckland Wright. Edited and translated by Somerset de Chair. Set in Perpetua type and printed on Arnold’s mould made paper.
4to., original green cloth, decorative gilt block to upper covers, gilt titles to spine, top edges gilt, others uncut, map endpapers. Spine ends and corners slightly bumped to volume I, some occasional light rubbing to extremities of cloth, hint of spotting to fore edge, internally clean and bright, a handsome set.
While on St Helena, Napoleon had dictated his memoirs, with digressions, to generals sharing his captivity, Charles Tristan, marquis de Montholon (1783–1853) and Gaspard, Baron Gourgaud (1783-1852). The results appeared in a single publication entitled Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de France, sous Napoléon, ecrits à Sainte-Hélène, sous la dictée de l’empereur, par les généraux qui ont partagé sa captivité, et publiés sur les manuscrits entièrement corrigés de la main de Napoléon (1823). It was translated in the same year into English as Memoirs of the History of France during the Reign of Napoleon.
The work could scarcely be seen as collaborative, as it is arranged according to the dictatee, with no concern for the chronological order of events described. De Chair’s publication largely follows the text of the 1823 translation. But it abridges and amalgamates the two accounts, omitting the asides and rearranging the events chronologically. It furthermore changes the narration from the third to the first person for immediacy.