Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution

By Sara E. Melzer; Leslie W. Rabine | Go to book overview

9

Being René, Buying Atala:
Alienated Subjects and Decorative
Objects in Postrevolutionary France

MARGARET WALLER

The canon of nineteenth-century French literature begins with a strange coupling. At the turn of the century, François-René de Chateaubriand published his first two novels separately, only to pair them a few years later. Together, the two works form a diptych in which men exchange stories about the dead women who had loved them. In Atala, a half-civilized American Indian, Chactas, tells how his lover, Atala, died to save her virginity. In René, the half- savage European René reveals his sister's incestuous love for him. Despite their obvious symmetry, the two works make a study in contrasts. While Atala harks back to its Enlightenment predecessors, René points the way toward Romanticism. Whereas Atala focuses on a virtuous, virginal heroine of the New World, René features an alienated, aristocratic antihero of the Old World.

Recent feminist work suggests, however, that this odd couple is also a paradigmatic pair. In Breaking the Chain, Naomi Schor argues that Atala emblematizes the "enchaining of the female protagonist" that is crucial to nineteenth-century French fiction. 1 I have proposed reading René, on the other hand, as the urtext for an insidious empowerment of men characteristic of the Romantic novel. 2 Whereas Atala reveals that the free-roaming heroine is in fact morally and then physically bound, René shows that the constraints on the hero are the basis of a new kind of male power. Together, then, the founding texts of the nineteenth-century canon signal the ever more pronounced imbalance of power between the sexes that came to characterize gender relations in postrevolutionary France. 3

Atala and René did more than just mirror or herald these changes in French culture and society, however. The publication of Atala in 1801 inspired

I would like to thank Barbara Cooper and Julia Przybos for sharing their expertise on popular culture and, particularly, Kate Jensen, Sara Melzer, Cris Miller, and Leslie Rabine for their invaluable comments on an earlier version of this chapter. I am grateful to Pomona College for the grant that made this research possible.

All translations are my own.

-157-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Rebel Daughters: Women and the French Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 296

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.