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Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, 1768-1800

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  700 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Written over the course of four decades, François-René de Chateaubriand’s epic autobiography has drawn the admiration of Baudelaire, Flaubert, Proust, Roland Barthes, Paul Auster, and W. G. Sebald. In this unabridged section of the Memoirs, spanning the years 1768 to 1800, Chateaubriand looks back on the already bygone world of his youth. He recounts the history of his ...more
Paperback, 584 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by New York Review of Books (first published 1850)
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Justin Evans
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Fascinating stuff; it's easy to see the influence Chateaubriand has had on later French writing; it's also just damn enjoyable to spend time in his company. I read this too quickly, but I'm very excited to re-read with pencil in hand, because the bon mots come thick and fast. His description of listening to shovelsful of dirt being dropped on a coffin might be the most affecting thing I've read this year. It would be wonderful to have the rest of the Memoirs translated in a modern edition, but I ...more
Gabrielle Dubois
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century
I read this book in French (because I'm french!). But I comment it in English, beacause I'd like you, English readers who would like to discover French state of mind from the late 18th and early 19th century and also the great History he really lived. It's not really fun, but it's Chateaubriand! So it's clever, pretentious (he could be!), historically very interesting and so many things more!
Chateaubriand's style is not that of Racine, it is that of the Prophet. (Napoleon)
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review after the second volume.
Fazackerly Toast
simply loved this. One of those books that you internalise and stays with you. His childhood! His forbidding father pacing the room from the fire to the end plunged in darkness, in silence! Those encounters with Napoleon. That occasion when the Napoleonic army crosses the river into Russia and he hears music, like in Antony and Cleopatra, the god of war whom he loved now leaving him. Heaven.
Sep 10, 2015 marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition

"I want to be Chateaubriand, or nothing"
- Victor Hugo

To hunt down...
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
Whoops, turns out I don’t know French. But someday I might. I’m keeping this little book around for that day.
Stephen Durrant
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For an understanding of the romantic temperament that shaped so much mid-19th century European literature, art and music, Chateaubriand's "Memoirs from beyond the Tomb" is a good place to start. The title itself envisions a writer, now nothing more than dust, speaking from beyond the grave--a reminder to us, I suppose, of where we will soon enough be (in case we need a reminder!). A common enough perspective, I suppose, but the living author who has become a dead author, in this case ...more
Typical the work of a large 'ego' looking for justification; more than any other this book has strong romantic traits. Chateaubriand is a liberal in his principles (freedom is central), but clearly conservative in politics (his option for monarchy); perhaps that explains his isolation as a historical person. The most beautiful pages treat about Napoleon, the passages on his own public actions are less readable. This still is a remarkable historical document! (2.5 stars)
Bud Smith
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first half was INCREDIBLE.
Second half was really good too, focuses on Napoleon a lot, almost a mini biography of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Francois Chateaubriand was a cool guy. I like him. We would have been friends. We have a similar haircut.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very smart man with a sharp quill. Probably one of my first literary love. I fancied the man who'd written such things, lived such a life. Damn he's got some ego, but mostly well deserved.
His memoirs are an amazing glimpse in the life and politics of some of the richest and most turbulent decades of french history.
Tim Parks
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the all time great autobiographical memoirs. Up there with Samuel Pepys. This is just the first volume in an excellent new translations. One of my most enjoyable reads in years.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literally "Memoirs from Beyond the Grave" is an autobiography in 42 volumes. The version I read had volumes 9-12, covering life and travels from April to September 1822, revised in December 1846.
David Brady
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

I’m so sad I’ve finished this book. It’s one I definitely know I’ll go back to. Chateaubriand’s vulnerable, fluid prose is incredible. He was a writer, soldier, diplomat, emigre... a passionate observer of a time past. He was witness to the beginnings of the French Revolution and the violence and anarchy that defined the crumbling of a society. He endured heartbreaking loss of family and friends. The book is definitely filled with arcana (like the long lists of names of his
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man certainly knows how to tell a story - the premise being living through the birth of America, the French Revolution, Napoleon's rise and fall, and finally the last gasps of the monarchy in France. His presents himself as one weathering countless ideology & political storms, staying true to his own beliefs. It's a little funny to hear him talk so much about a love of liberty contra Napoleon just after he denounced the Terror (which spilt the blood of his family in the name of liberty). ...more
John Williams
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a great dinner conversation via a time machine. Chateaubriand's life straddled a very changing world, in his native France as well as the New World. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of growing up in St. Malo, having recently visited there myself (due to my love of "All the Light We Cannot See"). His passages describing America just after the Revolutionary War, in particular his accounts of visiting with Native Americans, were also very entertaining and unique. A great read for history ...more
Apr 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely overrated: memoirs of an old guy who repaints himself larger than life and nicely removes anything conspicious. Maybe it says something about the french soul if this is termed a masterpiece?
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
over rated. poor little rich kid grows up , flees france to save his head from the revolution. very self absorbed ponce.
David Montgomery
I was expecting to find this book interesting as a historical source, but was surprised to love it as literature. Even in translation two centuries later, Chateaubriand has a felicity with language that oozes through the page — belying his early disclaimer that he is not one for wit. These memoirs are full of well-turned phrases and surprisingly self-aware observations from Chateaubriand's full life, which included a childhood growing up in a castle with a distant father, an irresolute young ...more
Mahdi H
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir feels less like any other and more like a narrative of a character from ‘ Peace and War’ novel by L Tolstoy. It recounts the life story of Francis Chateaubriand during the French Revolution and Napoleon’s reign in France.
From his aristocratic childhood in Saint Malo, to his explorer adventures in US and Canada, his return as a soldier to the camps of Germany, his exile to England, opposition to Bonaparte and finally embassador life.

Beautifully written, thought provoking, and
Morzejko Leporello
It is seldom that a major historical figure is also a great writer. Chateaubriand was both and not only he describes the turbulent events of the French Revolution and the following era, but was one shaping many of those events. Let us not forget, however, that first of all Chateaubriand was great romantic writer and the "Memories" is much more than a history book or an autobiography. Especially beautiful are the chapters describing his childhood and youth and his travels to America. We see here ...more
Robert Muir
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is the account by a man who lived through some of the most turbulent , yet fascinating times in France's history. He met George Washington, Louis the XVI, MME. de Stael, Napoleon, Louis XVIII....etc.
I'm giving it 5 stars for the writing and a style which clearly influenced Marcel Proust. I don't think I'm really qualified to judge the work further because I'm not a historian of the period. Also, it is not exactly a complete autobiography in the normal sense. But he was there and he lived
Ray Harajuku
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is phenomenal although it kind of ends before the end and the last 40 pgs are blah. But this guy is straight up funny and entertaining. He's a rich guy who prefers being poor and would prefer death to either. His life is pretty extraordinary except he kind of is blaze about it, almost as if it were pre-ordained or he were going through the motions: except for meeting Napoleon you get the grandeur of the little man from Chateaubriand's story.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
love reading about places two centuries ago especially in my own back yard--
Richard Anderson
Expert translation of this first volume of the classic.
Glaubert Fustave
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He spends his time lying, but he writes well.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a life! Three and a half stars.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born to an old aristocratic (but not very wealthy) Breton family, Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand was born less than a year before Napoleon Bonaparte. Like Bonaparte, Chateaubriand was a young man in his early 20s when the French Revolution broke out. Like his family, Chateaubriand was a Royalist, and was presented to Louis XVI at Versailles during the last days of the Anicen Regime. While the Revolution would take a terrible toll on his family, Chateaubriand recognized that many of the changes ...more
Blake Spraggins
Hmmm. I'm glad I learned about Chateaubriand, even if he was the hardest of hardcore reactionaries. But I was surprised by how much of his book was taken up with stuff he didn't witness -- like Napoleon's Russian campaign.
Riff Denbow
Wow, eloquent, beautiful, poetic, sublime
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François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand was a French writer, politician and diplomat. He is considered the founder of Romanticism in French literature.

He has also been mistakenly given the forename François-Auguste in an 1811 edition, but signed all his worked as just Chateaubriand or M. le vicomte de Chateaubriand.
“A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our affections, the rivers becoming frozen like our lives--all bear secret relations to our destinies.” 66 likes
“Alexander created cities everywhere he passed: I have left dreams everywhere I have trailed my life.” 16 likes
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