a perpetual exile

NOTES

a perpetual exile

The status of persona non grata, if somewhat unusual, was certainly not unheard of in France either before, or after, the Revolution. Napoleon, in fact, became famous for sending those who displeased him into exile. With one of these, Germaine de Staël, he got more than he bargained for: resentful of her criticism of his authoritarian rule, he banished her forever from French dominions, whereupon she set out on a long tour of Europe, speaking out against the Emperor of France and attracting legions of admirers wherever she went. One reason that she established herself at Coppet and gathered around her a set of pan-European intellectuals was that she could not return to Paris. Mary Shelley, in the ambience of Geneva in the summer of 1816, would have well aware of this record. Madame de Staël's last book, published posthumously in 1820, was called Ten Years of Exile. Whether Napoleon was afforded a copy on St. Helena, his island of exile in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is unlikely. Nonetheless, Germaine de Staël decidedly had the last laugh.