London: William Heinemann, 1894. First edition. Bound by Bayntun in full blue crushed levant morocco, pink silk-moire end papers, a lovely minature portrait of Empress Josephine on the front cover. A Fine copy, virtually without flaw, housed in a custom blue slipcase. Extra-illustrated with a series of 31 plates, ten of which are in color.
An ardent Bonapartist and important French historian, Masson used his work to explore the interior emotional life of Napoleon the man; indeed, he was committed to showing that Napoleon, far from being a god, was made greater in history because of his humanity, and his evolving strengths and weaknesses. Per his introduction, he explains that the inspiration for the present work came from an article in the Chronicle, in which "an anonymous correspondent asked the questions: 'With what women is Napoleon known to have had temporary relations as a young man, as Consul, and finally as Emperor? Had he an absorbing passion for any one woman? And if so, for whom?" What follows is an account of the female figures who shaped Napoleon from his youth to his death through a series of amorous adventures. "Napoleon was twice married, cucholded numerous times, frequent lover of opera singers and actresses, step-father to two children, father to his heir, the Duke of Reichstadt, and the father of at least two illegitimate children. This work masterfully brings Napoleon's often tumultous relationships with the women in his life with full colour and detail" (Pickin). A fascinating romance, beautifully illustrated. Fine (Item #2583)