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Pauline Bonaparte (pages 84-95)

Known for her promiscuous activities, Pauline Bonaparte was a famous beauty who spent her life as a permanent member of the French upper class, a status gained mainly through marriage. Pauline was born in Ajaccio, Corsica on September 20, 1780, to Marie Latizia and Carlo Buonaparte. Her brother was future French emperoro Napoleon Bonaparte who favored her over his other siblings (see also Caroline Bonaparte), and she was the only one to visit him on Elba, the island to which he was exiled after his forced abdication in 1814.

Portrait of Pauline Bonaparte, as the Princesse Borghese, Duchesse de Guastalla, painted by Robert Lefebvre, in 1808

Pauline, as the Princesse Borghese, Duchesse de Guastalla, painted by Robert Lefebvre, 1808

Napoleon encouraged Colonel Victor Emmanuel LeClerc who served in his army under him to marry Pauline. Pauline was very flirtatious and continued her infidelities after her marriage to LeClerc in 1797.

Leclerc was given command of an army in Haiti and was sent there to subdue the slave uprising, and restore French rule. In 1801 Pauline Bonaparte was literally forced by her brother to join Leclerc in Haiti. Although she found her new surroundings and climate to be much more agreeable than she had expected, she only remained in Haiti for a year. Leclerc died of yellow fever in 1802 and Pauline returned with his body to France.

The statue found by Soliman was sculpted by Antonio Canova at the request of Pauline Bonaparte. The statue depicted Pauline as Venus. When Soliman found this statue he was at the Borghese Palace, the home of Pauline’s second husband, whom she married eight months after Leclerc's death.

Pauline Bonaparte as Venus, statue by Antonio Canova

Pauline lived a very vain and wealthy life as the princess Borghese until she herself died, from cancer, at the age of 44, on June 9th of 1825 in Florence, Italy.

In The Kingdom of This World, Pauline Bonaparte serves as a symbol of French suppression of the indigenous peoples/slaves of Haiti. Disillusioned by literature, she has many misconceptions of Haiti and its people. When her husband falls ill, Pauline enlists the services of Soliman, a slave, to perform vodou ceremonies to make him well. Leclerc dies of yellow fever and Pauline returns to France.

For further information, go to:

For further pictures, including the portrait above, go to:

For pictures of the sculpture of Pauline as Venus, go to: (inc. the image above)



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