Hi everyone, first time poster here. I used to lurk on the Napoleon series forum a lot but never posted as I did not feeI I had anything to contribute; I'm not a historian but merely a hobby fiction writer.
I fear I still don't have anything to contribute but I do have a question that maybe somebody here could kindly help me with. It's about the book »Avec Bonaparte en Égypte et en Syrie«, containing 19 letters detailing the adventures of François Bernoyer during the years 1798 to 1800, edited by Christian Tortel. I had seen quotes in Juan Cole's and Paul Strathern's books and got myself a copy from our state library.
Now on first skimming through it I'm a little confused. Is this really a credible source? Because frankly, my first impresson was: These are not letters, these are not even memoirs who have been given the form of letters – this is a novel.
Also, the edition contains the facsmile of one original manuscript page, and while both my French and my ability to decipher handwritings are admittedly bad, even I can see that these letters are indeed not »inédites« but have been tampered with (in the original, the dates are given according to the Republican calendar, for example; they have been replaced in the printed version, and I noticed minor changes in the wording, too).
Does anybody know more about the history of this manuscript and its publication? Is the original manuscript somewhere to be found? Who is the editor of this publication? What's known about the author and about when and why he wrote the text? Has any historian ever verified the manuscript's authenticity and/or evaluated its credibility?
Sorry if I sound so sceptical, particularly as, again, I am no historian and have no academic background at all. It's probably rather preposterous of me to question a source on nothing but a feeling. I guess I just don't want to waste too much time in studying an aging Monsieur Bernoyer's imaginary harem adventures if indeed some of it has already been suspected of being fictionary ^_^.
The edition I got from the library has the title:
François Bernoyer, »Chef de l'atelier d'habillement de l'Armée d'Orient«: Avec Bonaparte en Égypte et en Syrie 1798 – 1800. Dix-neuf lettres inédites retrouvées, transcrites et présentées par Christian Tortel. Les Presses Françaises, Imprimérie F. Paillart, 1976