This French-language book on superstition in Napoleon's day is a unique and important artefact, a primary source on mid-century French popular occultism, for the fact that the author used this, his personal copy, as a volume in which to create a two-volume illustrated version which doubled as an occult scrapbook. This unique book is a rare testament to mid-20th-century occult Paris.
Author Georges Meuguin (1881-1961) was editor in chief of the Revue de l'Institute Napoleon, the institute being a society founded in 1932 and devoted to Napoloenic studes. Meuguin's occult interest in Napoleon was comprehensive: the title is Napoleon et la Superstition: anecdotes et curiosites, 'Napoleon and Superstition: Anecdotes and Curiosities.' The single volume work was printed - presumably at the author's instruction - into two volumes with intermittent blank pages to be his personal copy. This he filled with pictures, letters and ephemera and marked up with neat notes. The bulging volumes preserve psychics' cards, occult leaflets, advertisements, articles, autograph letters, and photographs which he himself had taken.
Napoleon et la Superstition; Anecdotes et Curiosities. Georges Mauguin. Rodez: Carrere. 1946 [although these volumes are clearly part of a project that continued until around 1957]. Two volumes. 9” x 6” 601pp.
Both volumes bound in uniform quarter dark green morocco leather with marbled paper covered boards, titled in gilt to spines. The original 239 pages of his published work have been laid down onto the pages of these two volumes and then fantastically, and occasionally chaotically, interleaved with a bewildering variety of additional material and ephemera. Literally hundreds of clippings, photographs, notes, manuscript letters, excerpts and captions have been added to existing pages. Appropriately enough, a large quantity of the additional material relates to the occult, including business cards and advertisements for psychics and clairvoyants, original plates and photographs of everything from rituals to symbolic imagery, all carefully connected to applicable references within the text by Mauguin in his meticulous hand. Fascinating, dense, and unique.