Memoirs from Beyond the Grave

François-René de Chateaubriand, trans. from the French by Alex Andriesse. New York Review Books, $18.95 trade paper (576p) ISBN 978-168137-129-0
Statesman de Chateaubriand (1768–1848) was the undisputed father of French literary romanticism and one of the 19th century’s great autobiographers. In these early memoirs, he recalls his youthful adventures—coming of age as a young aristocrat in rustic Normandy and, during the French Revolution, traveling in Canada and the United States. He also recalls, after a disastrous return to France that saw him wounded after joining the antirevolutionary royalist forces, enduring eight years of forced exile in England. In the America-set passages, he describes the country’s untamed wilderness with relish yet wonders if the new nation can survive being composed of a people with no common past or interests. He also records the customs of native tribes, including the Iroquois and the Seminoles, with an anthropologist’s eye, gathering information indispensable to his later novels. Writing decades after the actual events, Chateaubriand displays the sense of destiny, swirling ambition, and ego that marked his long, distinguished career. This memoir, ably translated by Andriesse with an introduction from historian Anka Muhlstein, reveals to English-speaking readers the famously aphoristic and flamboyant style that other French writers, including Baudelaire and Proust, admired and sought to emulate. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 11/07/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-68137-130-6
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