Chateaubriand, François-René, viscount de

(1768-1848)
   writer
   Born in Saint-Malo, in Brittany, where he also spent his youth, Chateaubriand entered the army in 1786, but soon saw his military career interrupted by the revolution of 1789. He left France and traveled to the United States (1791), then returned to fight on the side of the royalist forces. Later (1793), he escaped to England. After publishing his Essai sur les révolutions (1797), he returned to France (1800) and dedicated himself to writing. He also found favor with napoléon i, who gave him a diplomatic post. He resigned and turned against Napoléon, however, after the execution of the duke of Enghien (1804). After the restoration, Chateaubriand was made a peer of France (1815) and ambassador to Britain (1822). He represented France at the Congress of Verona and served as foreign minister (1823-24). As one of the most important French writers of the early 19th century, Chateaubriand introduced the European audience to the new and exotic life of North America, especially its rustic scenery and the Native American culture. His other writings emphasized introspection and are often pessimistic, as exemplified by his novels Atala (1801) and René (1802). In his famous Génie du christianisme (1802), he presented his view that Christianity was the moral and aesthetic superior to other religions. This thesis had a strong effect on the religious and literary culture of the period. Chateaubriand's other writings, often further defenses of Christianity or descriptions of his travels in America, include Les Martyrs (1809). Hostile to orléanism, Chateaubriand wrote works that are also political in outlook, as in his Études historiques (1831). He left an account of his life, Mémoires d'outre-tombe, published posthumously in 1849. Chateaubriand was elected to the Académie Française in 1811.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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