Chateaubriand and Madame Recamier

Celia Goodman describes how one of the greatest French beauties of her day became the faithfully devoted companion of its most celebrated and gifted writer.

Chateaubriand was not only the most celebrated French writer of the first half of the nineteenth century; he was also gifted with a political intelligence. Yet while literary success came easily and remained with him all his life, his political career was confined to the two years during which he held the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The reasons for this are complex, deriving partly from events and partly from his own character. He was a man of complete integrity.

Thus, upon hearing of the murder of the due d’Enghien in 1804, he at once sent in his resignation from the post of Minister to the Valais to which he had just been appointed, and so condemned himself to ten years of political exile.

His ambition was enormous, yet he sacrificed it to a cause about which he himself soon lost all illusions.

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