A Nation of Foreigners: Chateaubriand and Repatriation
Though Chateaubriand is known as a great writer of exile, his memoirs present many instances of homecoming: his own in 1800, and those of Louis XVIII, his brother the comte d’Artois, and the remaining émigrés in 1814. This article reads Chateaubriand’s treatment of these homecomings in his memoirs alongside his political writings of 1814–18 to consider how Chateaubriand presents them as moments of national identity-crisis, and retrospectively adopts in the memoirs some of the very positions he had rejected under the Restoration. It also considers these themes in the newspaper Le Conservateur, whose founding in 1818 coincided with the final departure of the foreign troops from France. Using the central concept of “repatriation,” I consider how Chateaubriand presented himself as the apostle of a unified image of Frenchness; yet how that image was undermined by his own collaborators, who consistently underscored the irremediably fractured state of the fatherland.