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Our Masterpiece Is the Private Life: In Pursuit of the “Real” Chateaubriand

- October 9, 2019 in Alphonse de Lamartine, chateaubriand, France, François-René de Chateaubriand, Madame Récamier, Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe, Memoirs From Beyond the Grave, Victor Hugo

While nowadays he might be best known for the cut of meat that bears his name, François-René de Chateaubriand was once one of the most famous men in France — a giant of the literary scene and idolised by such future greats as Alphonse de Lamartine and Victor Hugo. Alex Andriesse explores Chateaubriand's celebrity and the glimpse behind the public mask we are given in his epic autobiography Memoirs From Beyond the Grave.

Texts in Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn

- April 23, 2013 in chateaubriand, collections, Diderot, Fitzgerald, Garden of Cyrus, Grimmelshausen, Gustave Flaubert, History, Hydrotophia or Urne Buriall, madame boavry, musaeum clausum, Rubáiyát, sebald, Simplicius Simplicissimus, swinburne, texts, Texts: 19th, Texts: Fiction, Texts: Miscellaneous, Texts: Non-fiction, Texts: Poetry, thomas browne, w.g. sebald

At the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 57, the German writer W.G. Sebald was cited by many critics as a future winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was his book The Rings of Saturn, written in 1995 (translated into English in 1998), which went a long way to securing Sebald’s reputation as a writer pioneering a new kind of literary fiction. The book is exemplary of his strange and unique style: the hybridity of genres, the blurring of fact and fiction, the indistinct black and white photographs, and his meditation on the destructive nature of history, the human lives affected, and the restorative power of art. The book is, on one level, a walking tour through the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk, Sebald’s adopted home (he’d taught literature at the UEA there since 1970). The reader moves with the melancholic narrator from town to town, village to village, but in the process – through an astonishing network of associations, tangents, and apparent coincidences – one is led all over the world, into many different times, and many different lives. A ride on a miniature railway at Somerleyton Hall leads to 19th century [...]