by Francois A. R. Chateaubriand
Translated by James Spence Harry from Firmin Didot’s edition of the Viscount’s works.
Illustrated by Gustave Doré
– ♦ –
GORGEOUSLY ILLUSTRATED WITH 30 DRAMATIC FULL PAGE PLATES
– ♦ –
Publisher: Belford, Clarke & Co., Chicago
Copyright: No date printed, c late 1880s-90’s
– ♦ –
CONDITION: This book is in very good condition. Hardcover complete with hand-marbled slipcase. This is a very attractive copy in decorative binding in red cloth over beveled boards with elaborate gilt and black stamping on front and spine. Gilt on cover is bright. Cover is rubbed along edges and corners. Spine gilt and color is darkened. Some fraying to head/tail of spine. Hinges are strong and binding is square. Floral endpapers are clean and bright, front endpaper has some creasing. Book is ex-library with the following marks: small number on spine, library stamp on ex-libris located on inside front cover, blue number stamp on title page. There is a pencil inscription on front fly leaf and a pencil underline under author’s name on title page. Some very slight signs of moisture damage on the tips of some pages as well as on the back cover and seam of back endpapers. All edges gilt. Illustrated with 30 full page plates by Gustave Dore, each with facing caption leaf, plus several smaller illustrations as chapter heads and tailpieces. Text block is clean and crisp with no stains or foxing. All illustrations present and bright. Lovely, sound copy.
48 pages, 9.5″ x 11.5″
– ♦ –
About the Novel
Atala, ou Les Amours de deux sauvages dans le desert is an early novella by François-René de Chateaubriand, published in April 1801. The work, inspired by his travels in North America, had an immense impact on early Romanticism, and went through five editions in its first year. It was adapted frequently for stage, and translated into many languages.
Contrasting the cruelty and warfare of the Indians with the saintliness of the missionary, it is intended as a condemnation of the philosophers’ praise of the “noble savage”; the author insisted that the Natchez Indian Chactas was “more than half civilised”, and positive values are considered more or less synonymous with Christianity and Europeanisation. Nevertheless the decision to portray at least two Indians sympathetically irked later generations of readers whose attitudes had been shaped by “scientific racism”, and even today it is often assumed by casual readers (who do not read the prefaces) that Chateaubriand was a promulgator rather than a denouncer of the “noble savage” concept.
While the book’s accuracy on the subject of the North American flora is a controversial matter, it seems to be agreed that Chateaubriand never saw much of the southern territories he describes, and his descriptions are based on naturalists’ books.
The story is told from the point of view of the 73-year-old hero, Chactas, whose story is preserved by an oral tradition among the Seminoles.