Atala & René

Chateaubriand, François-René de (1768–1848), translated by Kline, A. S. (contact-email)

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New translations of Chateaubriand’s novellas Atala & René, early classics of French Romanticism. First released in 1802, Atala and René were part of Chateaubriand’s Génie du christianisme. René, an excerpt from the unpublished Les Natchez, achieved immediate acclaim, comparable to Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. Both works address individuals in conflict with their societies. They were reissued together in 1805. Contrary to celebrating the ‘noble savage’, both stories suggest the virtues of Christianity and Europeanisation. However, the nuanced portrayal of ‘savages’ often leads to misinterpretation of Chateaubriand’s stance. René includes autobiographical elements and became iconic for its expression of the era’s malaise, inspiring future works like Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Despite controversy over its incest theme, René resonated with young readers and showcased Chateaubriand’s moral and philosophical depth.

Author Details

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Kline, A. S.

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