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Posts Tagged ‘les miserables

How a shepherd boy caused the defeat of Napoleon

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Hugo makes the following remark in Les Miserables (Vol. II “Cosette”, Ch. XVIII):

And these things took place, and kings regained their thrones, and the master of Europe was put in a cage, and the old order became the new order, and the light and the shadow of the earth changed places, because on the afternoon of a summer day a peasant boy said to a Prussian in a wood, “Go this way and not that!”

Et ces choses se sont faites, et ces rois ont repris leurs trônes, et le maître de l’Europe a été mis dans une cage, et l’ancien régime est devenu le nouveau, et toute l’ombre et toute la lumière de la terre ont changé de place, parce que, dans l’après-midi d’un jour d’été, un pâtre a dit à un Prussien dans un bois: passez par ici et non par là!

The reference, of course, is to the Battle of Waterloo; the “Prussian” referred to is the commander of the vanguard of Blucher’s army.  Blucher’s timely arrival on the battlefield turned the tide of the battle in favour of Wellington and the Allies, and led to the decisive defeat of Napoleon.


Written by uncudh

April 15, 2009 at 4:21 pm