Chateaubriand 1768 - 1848 (80)

Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow them.


Paris, December 1821

What importance can we attach to the things of this world? Friendship? It disappears when the one who is liked comes to grief, or the one who likes becomes powerful. Love? it is deceived, fleeting, or guilty. Fame? You share it with mediocrity or crime. Fortune? Could that frivolity be counted a blessing? All that remains are those so-called happy days that flow past unnoticed in the obscurity of domestic cares, leaving man with the desire neither to lose his life nor to begin it over.

François-Auguste-René de Chateaubriand was a French writer and politician, one of the pioneers of French Romanticism. He was born in Saint-Malo, Brittany on September 4, 1768, the last of ten children in his family. His father was a merchant who had acquired a large fortune and had bought a tower and the title of earl. François-Auguste-René attended the best schools, revealing a great appeal for learning and a special interest in classical writers.

Because most of the family estate along with the titles went to the firstborn, Chateaubriand had to choose a career, so from 1786 to 1790 he tried, without real interest, the military field. He did not take part in the French Revolution and in 1791 left for America. He returned 8 months later having wasted all his share of the paternal fortune. He married a girl who everyone thought was very rich, in reality she didn't have much money, his financial problems remained. He then enlisted in the army of exiled aristocrats having decided to defend the monarchy; in a battle he was wounded and then, as in France prevailed theRobespierre's terrorism (sending without reason the aristocrats to the guillotine as enemies of the revolution) h emoved to Engalnd, where he lived in poverty, with only a small income from teaching French.

At the same time he was wiritng and in 1797 he published the "Essay on Revolutions", which went unnoticed. In London he fell in love with a pastor's daughter, when he confessed that he was already married the romance broke down and in 1800, with Napoleon in power, he decided to return to France. He published the novel "Atala", which was a great success and two years later the "Spirit of Christianity" which contributed to the revival of Catholicism in France.

Napoleon appointed him secretary of the diplomatic mission to the Papal State, a position he resigned from in 1804, when he began to disagree with Napoleon's tactics. In 1806 he made a great trip to Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt and Spain for which he wrote 3 travel books. He also published a strong critique of Napoleon, which led to his expulsion from Paris and his emergence as a key spokesman for the opposition. So when oppostion, the Bourbons, came to power, he became a minister, but he quickly resigned, refusing to cooperate with people of the Revolution who had also penetrated the new government.

In 1817 he fell in love with the legendary Madame Recamier while he was living with his wife as guests in the homes of friends and fans as they were left without money. In 1818 he founded a newspaper, and in 1820 he was appointed foreign minister by the new government. In 1824 he was expelled from the government after intense disagreements with other members, in 1825 he published the "Memorandum about Greece" in which he strongly supported Greece and the revolution of 1821. In 1828 he was appointed ambassador and in 1830 he retired permanently. from politics refusing to take an oath of allegiance to King Philip. In 1836, due to financial problems, he gave his autobiography to a publishing house, which he was writing for years and intended to allow its publication 50 years after his death. In 1847 his wife died; he said for her: I always respected her but I never loved him. He died in the following year.