'Le Régénérateur de la France': Literary Accounts of Napoleonic Regeneration 1799-1805


This article examines the earliest stages of the Napoleonic legend, as it took shape in the immediate post-Revolutionary era. In particular it focuses on what would later become a central theme in the Romantic-era cult of Napoleon - the theme of regeneration. The concept of regeneration with both its physiological and spiritual connotations was already a moral imperative of the Revolutionary period. However, the imagery linked to regeneration is still very much in evidence in a variety of little known texts glorifying Napoleon as a source of agriculture revitalization, demo-graphic renewal, national renaissance and spiritual rebirth. We also see evidence of a catastrophic form of literary regeneration in such works as Le Dernier homme by Grainville (1805) in which the figure of Napoelon is overshadowed by an annihilating form of regeneration that puts into question any dream of rebirth in the post-Revolutionary world. (KS) 

Sainson, Katia.
Release Year:
Project MUSE: 
2001-2002 Fall-Winter; 30(1-2): 9-25.