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La San-Felice et Emma Lyonna

The Lovely Lady Hamilton; The Beauty and the Glory; Love and Liberty; The Neapolitan Lovers

roman/novel, pub:1863-1865, action:1798-1800

La San Felice was one of Dumas' last successes. It was published in La Presse as a serial between December 15, 1863 and March 3, 1865. The novel is about the establishment of the Republic in Naples in 1799 by the General Championnet and the re-establishment of the Bourbons three months later.
     The novel features the British Admiral Horatio Nelson, Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton, King Ferdinand IV and Queen Maria Carolina (sister of Marie Antoinette) and the Italian Admiral Caracciolo.
    Includes the story of Lady Emma Hamilton's (1761?-1815) career. It has been said that Dumas based this novel on Lady Hamilton's memoirs.
Emma, c.1761-1815, was the daughter of a blacksmith from Cheshire. Her rise in society came after her marriage to the much older Sir William Hamilton, British envoy to Naples. Despite her humble origins, and earlier relationships, Emma was a great success in Naples society, and became well-known for her performance of classical poses or `attitudes'. Nelson first met the Hamiltons in Naples in 1793 and Emma's hero-worship after his great victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 laid the foundation for their famous love affair. Their relationship caused a scandal both in the Mediterranean and later in London, when Nelson returned to England in the company of the Hamiltons. Nelson and Emma's daughter, Horatia was born in 1801. Her birth was kept a secret because her parents' relationship remained outside marriage, although Nelson regarded Emma as his wife in the sight of God.
From Fact file Horatio Nelson 1758-1805
Dumas also wrote Les Souvenirs d'une Favorite which is a narrative of the career of Lady Emma Hamilton, and La San-Felice, a play drawn from the novel.

    Emma Lyonna, tome I (PDF)
    Emma Lyonna, tome II (PDF)
    Emma Lyonna, tome III (PDF)
    Emma Lyonna, tome IV (PDF)
    Emma Lyonna, tome V (PDF)
    Backwater of History: Alexandre Dumas and the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799 (abstract)
    Review of La San Felice
    Revue de La San Felice
    San Felice Del Benaco : Storia (italien/Italian)
    The National Maritime Museum Horatio Nelson Gallery

Images (voyez tous/view all)
    Cover of The Neapolitan Lovers
    Emma Hart, The Future Lady Hamilton, As Ariadne
    La San-Felice par Alexandre Dumas tome neuvième

From Reviews (ADR) by Arthur D. Rypinski:
     In 1861, Alexandre Dumas, having helped Giuseppe Garibaldi conquer the Kingdom of Naples (recounted in Les Garibaldiens,) found himself ensconced in a comfortable Neapolitan villa, and given access to the secret archives of the late Bourbon regime. From his historical research came a work of history, Les Bourbons des Naples, and a work of historical fiction, La San Felice.
     La San Felice is more history than fiction. According to translator R. S. Garnett, La San Felice was Dumas' personal favorite among his many works, and it is easy to see why. If the book lacks the witty dialogue of his earlier works, it also lacks the padding and digressions. Dumas breathes life into even his most unsympathetic characters, The mature Dumas, with recent personal experience of the savagery and personal betrayals inevitable in civil war, wrote an acutely perceptive psychological study within the framework of a historical romance.
     The book opens with the arrival of the British commander of the Mediterranean fleet, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), in Naples. Nelson has just crushed the French fleet in the Battle of the Nile, stranding Napoleon and his army in Egypt. Nelson is met by the Bourbon King and Queen of Naples, Ferdinand (1759-1825) and Maria Carolina (1752-1814). Ferdinand was a grandson of Louis XIV, and Maria Carolina, an Austrian, was the sister of Marie Antoinette, recently executed by the French Republic. With the King and Queen were Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803), for thirty years a resident of Italy and British ambassador to Naples, and his wife Emma, Nelson's mistress. In Dumas' fiction, the Hamiltons were under the influence of the Queen, and through Emma, Nelson and the British fleet were yoked to the Queen's dynastic objectives.
     France and Naples were nominally at peace, but the Queen and her expatriate British prime minister, Lord Acton (1736-1811) loathed the Republic on personal, religious, political, and ideological grounds, particularly since a small French army in Rome, commanded by the energetic General Jean-Etienne Championnet was conspiring with Neapolitan republicans to overthrow the Bourbon regime. General Championnet sends his aide-de-camp, (the fictional) Salvato Palmieri, to the Republicans with word to postpone their uprising, since the French army is too small and too ill equipped to support them Palmieri is attacked by a gang of thugs under the employ of Lord Acton, his message stolen, and left for dead on the street in front of the house of the elderly Chevalier de San Felice, royal librarian, and his young wife, Luisa San Felice. Luisa takes in the desperately wounded Salvato, hides him, and nurses him back to health, and, of course, they fall in love.
     Acton and the Queen dupe the King into declaring war on France and invading the Roman republic. Outnumbered 6-to-1, General Championnet turns and routs the Neapolitan army at Civita Castellana, north of Rome, and marches on Naples.
     His army shattered, Ferdinand is counseled to mobilize the people in a national resistance by the Commander of the Navy, Francesco Cariccolo (1752-1799), and by Fabrizio, Cardinal Ruffo (1744-1827). However, the Queen and Acton dissuade the King, and Ferdinand and his court flee to Palermo aboard Admiral Nelson's flagship. The court conveniently includes the Chevalier San Felice, while Luisa is left behind.
     With the royalists out of way, General Championnet and his army enter Naples and the Neapolitan Republicans establish a "Parthenopean Republic." Salvato and Luisa are reunited. Admiral Caricciolo, disgusted by the behavior of the King, tenders his resignation, and returns to Naples as a private citizen. General Championnet, having won a brilliant victory, is recalled to Paris to be court-martialed for protecting Naples against arbitrary exactions by the French Government.
     Cardinal Ruffo, however, is appointed Viceroy, and returns to Cortone, on the toe of the Italian boot, and raises a rag-tag royalist army composed of feudal retainers, brigands, and wannabe looters. The army marches North, defeating the Republican army in a series of engagements punctuated by appalling atrocities and looting, which the Cardinal struggles to control. By June 1799, Cardinal Ruffo is at the gates of Naples, and is joined by military contingents from Russia, Austria, and Turkey, allied against France.
     Meanwhile, Luisa is falsely credited with betraying a Royalist conspiracy in Naples led by Andrew and Simon Baker, expatriate British bankers to the King. The Bakers are arrested and sentenced to death, and Luisa becomes an unwilling Republican hero. Caricciolo is persuaded to command the Republican Navy.
     Ruffo gains control of much of Naples through popular uprisings, but the fortifications remain in Republican hands. Cardinal Ruffo makes a deal: the forts will surrender, but their occupants can leave Naples safely and embark ship for France. However, Admiral Nelson arrives from Palermo to advice that the King wants the rebels apprehended. As soon as the Republicans have embarked, Influenced by Lady Hamilton, Nelson seizes the ship, and turns the occupants over to the King, who promptly has them all hung, including Admiral Caricciolo. Dishonored and disgusted, Cardinal Ruffo, who has just replaced the crown on Ferdinand's unworthy head, resigns.
     Salvato and Luisa escape, but are betrayed. Luisa is captured, and sentenced to death, but her sentence is suspended when it is learned she is pregnant. Salvato launches a rescue attempt, but is killed in the attempt, Luisa gives birth to a still-born infant, and is hung the next day. In all, the King executes more than 4,000 people, and his dynasty reigns, punctuated by foreign invasion, civil unrest, and repression, for another sixty years.
     Dumas' story is largely historical. Dumas' principal improvements were to create the fictional Italian-French Salvato Palmieri as a romantic hero, and to improve the character of the historical Luisa San Felice, informer and adulteress, who, through Dumas' pen, becomes a martyr for love. Dumas gives an unblinking and decidedly unromantic account of the brigandage and atrocities of Fra Diavolo and others, and the numerous treasons and acts of betrayal on both sides. In Dumas' account, the courageous, competent, and honorable men on both sides, such as General Championnet, Cardinal Ruffo, and Admiral Caricciolo, fighting either for their country envisaged in the person of the King, or for their country envisioned as "the people" wind up persecuted or dead, while the inept, corrupt, and criminal survive and prosper.
     The principal English translation of this work was prepared by R. S. Garnett in 1916-1918, and published by Stanley Paul in London and David McKay in Philadelphia, in two volumes, under the titles The Neapolitan Lovers and Love and Liberty. The English title Love and Liberty has also been applied to two other works by Dumas, the unfinished novel Le Volontaire de '92, and also to a translation of La Comtesse de Charny.

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
     At first this romance was issued wholly as "La San-Felice," but later, on account of its length, the latter half was named, none too aptly, "Emma Lyonna."
     It deals very fully with the period of Nelson and the Hamiltons at the court of Naples, a subject with which Dumas became very familiar during his residence in that city from 1860 to 1864. He weaves his story round the tragic figure of la San-Felice, as usual with him making her probably more attractive than she was in life.
     The period is 1798-1800.
     Dumas had no collaborator with this work.
     The final volume was signed: "Saint-Gratien, 15th September, 1864."
     It first ran very successfully through "La Presse."
     Original edition, as "La San-Felice;" Paris, Michel Lévy Frères, 9 vols., large 18mo., with orange coloured wrappers, 1864-65.
     First illustrated edition, same title : Paris, Legrand et Creuset for the first three volumes ; Legrand, Toussel et Pomey for the fourth. In all 4 vols., large 8vo., 64 wood engravings after Philippoteaux (N.D.).
         Vol. I., pp. 390, including table of contents,
         Vol. II., pp. 371, table of contents additional.
         Vol. III., pp. 382, including table of contents.
         Vol. IV., pp. 399. including table of contents,
         and list of plates for all the volumes.
     It is now in the standard Calmann-Lévy edition as "La San-Felice," 4 vols., and "Emma Lyonna," 5 vols.
     In Le Vasseur's "Alexandre Dumas Illustré" the two works form part of Vol. XV.

         References :—
     Parran: "Bibliographie d'Alex. Dumas," page 68.
     Glinel: "Alexandre Dumas et Son Œuvre," page 460.
     Pifteau: "A. Dumas en Manches de Chemise," pp. 23-27.

         English Translations :—
     "The Lovely Lady Hamilton ; or, the Beauty and the Glory;" translated by H. L. Williams, pp. 262, London, 1903.
     "The Neapolitan Lovers" and "Love and Liberty," forming together the complete romance, slightly abridged, translated by R. S. Garnett; London, S. Paul, 1916 and 1918 respectively. Reprinted, same firm, 18mo, (1919).

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
verse in "La San-Felice".
     (CCLXXIV.) Chapter IV., the translation of an additional verse to "God Save the King," sung at Naples in honour of Nelson. (The original English wording is given in the "Souvenirs d'une Favorite," Chapter LXXIX.)
     (CCLXXV.) Chapter XLII., three four-line lyrics, sung by Lady Hamilton, rhyming alternately. (This piece of verse is repeated in the "Souvenirs d'une Favorite," Chapter XLVIII.)

From A Bibliography of Alexandre Dumas père by Frank Wild Reed:
verse in "Emma Lyonna,"
     (CCLXXVI.) Chapter LIX., four lines translated from the Italian, rhyming alternately.
     (CCLXXVII.) Chapter LX., four five-line stanzas, translated from the Italian, rhyming a, b, a, a, b.
     (CCLXXVIII.) Chapter LXII., one five-line stanza, rhyming a, b, a, a. b.

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