Monday, June 12, 2006

The return of Napoleon and Kafka's Amerika

I learnt something about Napoleon today. Yeah, that midget of a man, wearing those funny fluffy white pants and the weird hat and those knee length shoes.

(Oh! Those pretentious French and their sense of fashion!!)

I learnt that he was actually exiled twice.

The fist time aound, he was exiled to the Island of Elba in the year 1814. He retained command of approximately 1000 men and was supposedly in control of the entire economy of the island. Which is not much, Elba, in those days was apparently a poverty stricken speck of an Island off the coast of Italy.
So our man is there in Elba, terrorising the local populace with his towering personality and chasing the mountain goats around and plotting his return to France and glory. (Ok, I just made that up, but we do know that he did plot his return)

And then, almost magically, his turn comes in the year 1815. He commandeers some ships and sets sail towards France. He lands in a troubled and chaotic France with a restive poplation. He then starts marching towards Paris with his small army and things go his way like a knife through butter. Apparently, he goes unarmed and alone in front of the army sent against him in the french Alps and is so persuasive that the army comes over to his side.
This is repeated again and again all along his triumphant return to Paris. (Let me guess what he said, "make me emperor and you can have all the moules à la crème you guys want" :D)

And then he is able to do what many thought was impossible, he is able to raise an army of at least 100,000 before the other allied European powers could raise theirs and send them against a still consolidating opposition.
We would better appreciate this if we understand that all this, his entire journey from Elba all the way to his Waterloo took less than 100 days!!

Finally, almost in a tragi-comic replay of this return to France in opposite, he loses at Waterloo. Some historians believe that rainfall on one day, gave the defeated Prussians enough time to regroup and rush to the aid of the English, and if this had not happened, had it not rained, history and our little man's life might have taken a very different turn.

Ok, now coming to what this has got to do with Kafka's Amerika? I dont know about you guys, but saw a parallel in how Karl Rossmann, the main protagonist, gains so much so quickly with so little effort and then loses everything equally quickly through no fault of his. This happens twice in his life.

So thats the story of Napoleons return.

OK , heres a movie that I absolutely loved:


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