CHATEAUBRIAND by Friedrich Sieburg
Kirkus Star


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Romanticism and Chateaubriand, so they say, were born together, and both, at least in modern scholarship, seem set for a revival. Certainly Friedrich Sieburg's tribute to the famed French writer and statesman ranks with the best of current biography, e.g. Maurois' portrait of George Sand, Herod's of Mme de Stael; it also borrows something of its subject's style, enswathed in a mal de siecle elegance of phrase, swarming with people and events all true but larger than life, ranged against a dazzling personal drama and a haute monde spectacular. Chateaubriand grew up at wind-swept Saint-Malo under the Cassandra-like care of his sister; he knew intimations of genius, scintillas of suffering. He journeyed to the Americas in 1790, just as he would travel to the East later on; writing of redskins and savannahs, of secret wounds and primitive idylls, he found himself famous overnight, inundated with perfumed notes and panting bosoms. His liaisons were both lusty and lofty; after some Bonapartist pursuits, he supported the Bourbons, became a peer, a minister plenipotentiary at the Verona Congress, a London ambassador. He went round in a maze of contradictions: an ardent Catholic, he hated monks; avid of conquests and adventures, he craved the voice of the sea and of solitude; lionized as ""l'Enchanteur"" he was also splenetic, savage; the writer-as-hero, ""not fit to be loved"", whose life proved his one real work of art. Under Herr Sieburg's hands that life is once again an historical spellbinder.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1962
Publisher: St Martin's Press