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The Paradox of Change


Malcolm Scott

This reassessment of Chateaubriand’s literary and political achievements, offered as an intellectual biography of the writer, is centred on the concept of change and Chateaubriand’s emotional suspicion of change, arising both from mistrust of his own inconstancy and from the personal and collective suffering of the French Revolution. His aversion to change spread beyond politics to religion and literature, but conflicted with his intellectual fascination with historic change in all three areas. The paradox of his fluctuating attitude to change allows a challenge to traditional views of Chateaubriand’s status. Was he truly a committed founder of French Romanticism? Was he an unswerving right-wing legitimist? Was he an insincere and ‘aesthetic’ Christian? The book provides new answers to these questions, presenting a very different Chateaubriand both through an analysis of his preference for the epic literature of Greece and Rome and its Christian heritage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and by its account of his subtle pleading for constitutional monarchy. Malcolm Scott argues that the failure of Chateaubriand’s political aspirations led him, again paradoxically, to the espousal of change and to a final dramatic reversal of his literary and religious standpoint, expressed in the writings of the last few years of his life.
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Le Romantisme et après en France Romanticism and after in France

a series founded by Alan Raitt and edited by Patrick McGuinness

“Le Romantisme et après en France” est une collection dont le but est de publier des monographies ou des ouvrages de plus longue haleine, écrits par des membres des universités du Royaume-Uni et d’Irlande, que ce soit des enseignants chevronnés ou de jeunes chercheurs. Ces livres traiteront de la littérature française depuis la période préromantique jusqu’aux premières années du vingtième siècle, et pourront être en anglais ou en français; ils pourront traiter d’un seul auteur ou d’un sujet plus étendu.

“Romanticism and after in France” is a series designed to publish monographs or longer works of high quality originating in universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland, whether by established scholars or recent graduates, dealing with French literature in the period from pre-Romanticism to the turn of the twentieth century. Books may be in English or French, and may consist of studies of single authors or of wider topics.

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