François-René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand, René

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Few readers today wade through Chateaubriand’s five-volume religious apology

Le Génie du christianisme

(1802) in its entirety. However,


, a slim novella originally published as part of the


, is still among the most-read texts of French romanticism. It is a self-contained story with a gripping plot, and defines the features of a new German- and English-inspired romantic current in French literary writing. Indeed,


has been identified as the text that created and popularised the superior but melancholic romantic hero suffering from profound disillusionment. Chateaubriand’s Preface to the 1805 edition of


is credited with being the first exposition and analysis of this French

mal du siècle

[the malady of the era].

The opening of the novella presents a young

2286 words

Citation: Gerwin, Elisabeth. "René". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 February 2018 [, accessed 19 June 2024.]

11158 René 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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