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Chateaubriand's «Mémoires d'outre-tombe»

A Portrait of the Artist as Exile

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Tom Conner

In this study, my primary concern will not be Chateaubriand, the man, but rather, the autobiographic persona in the Mémoires. The narrator of the Mémoires presents two sides of himself. On the one hand, there is what Proust might have, called the narrator's «moi social», on the other his «moi profond». Briefly my thesis is that Chateaubriand writes out of «exile», and I define this term not only in physical, political and social terms but also in moral and psychological terms. The Mémoires, therefore, are nothing short of a portrait of the artist in exile, where the narrator projects an imaginary, romantic self that seeks affirmation through history and biography, but also through fantasy and revery.