Chateaubriand, François Rene de

[Francois Rene de Chateaubriand] (1768-1848) Writer, born Saint Malo, France; died Paris, France. He entered the army, but after the fall of the monarchy sailed for America, remaining there five or six months, and then returned to join Conde. Having been left for dead on the battlefield after the attack on Thionville, he escaped to England in 1793. In 1800 he returned to France and became ambassador at Berlin and London, and Plenipotentiary at the Congress of Vienna. His first work, an essay on revolutions, reveals the havoc wrought in his mind by Rousseau and the infidel literary circles of Paris, but his mother's dying request brought him back to religion, and despite his moral failings he remained strong in faith. Having attacked religion, he made amends by his celebrated "Genius of Christianity," an apology for the Faith, based on the beauties of the religion of Christ. His work on the martyrs is a prose poem. He also left descriptions of his journey to Jerusalem, and his travels in America. After his death his memoirs appeared. In romances like "Atala," Chateaubriand's colour is vivid and his phraseology harmonious; in his political writings the style is crisp and incisive. His influence on literature is acknowledged: romanticism is traced back to him, and the whole literary movement of the 19th century begins with his "Genius of Christianity."

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