"Books over a century old don’t often feel this fresh, but Andriesse’s translation of de Chateaubriand’s memoirs . . . turns the account of a nobleman, writer, and explorer into an unexpectedly resonant work." —Tobias Caroll, Words Without Borders
“What distinguishes [Memoirs from Beyond the Grave] . . . is less its historical overview of the turbulence that preceded Napoleon’s rise to power than Chateaubriand’s examination of his own character and feelings amid multiple setbacks. Indeed, it is the lyricism and intimacy of his language, convincingly translated here by Alex Andriesse, that made Chateaubriand a precursor of French Romanticism.” —Alan Riding, The New York Times Book Review
"Alex Andriesse has done a wonderful job suggesting the range of tone and feeling Chateaubriand offers, his shifts from the ecstatic to the dry, from the descriptive to the cryptic. Even in English he comes across as compulsively quotable, especially at his moments of supreme pessimism. ‘Every night as he goes to bed, a man can count his losses.’ ‘The chain of mourning and funerals that encircles us is never broken.’ ‘All my days are goodbyes.’ Again and again, reading the Memoirs we hear the voices of Schopenhauer, Cioran and Beckett." —Tim Parks, London Review of Books
"Notes Without a Text (Dalkey Archive) by Eugenio Montale's Triestene friend and contemporary Roberto ("Bobi") Bazlen (1902–'65), in an elegant translation by Alex Andriesse, is literature in its pure, raw, recessive form: the unpublished torso of a novel, pensées from notebooks, and something I never thought I'd see: scads of publishers' readers' reports. (But what publishers—Einaudi, Adelphi!—and what reports—on Musil, on Hamsun!) If such a book can be published, 'now,' or 'still,' then one thinks there must be some hope for the Archimedean virtues it exemplifies: the first—or last—cuckoo in the coalmine." —Michael Hofmann, Times Literary Supplement
In 1800, François-René de Chateaubriand sailed from the cliffs of Dover to the headlands of Calais. He was thirty-one, and had been living as a political refugee in England for most of a decade, at times in such extreme poverty he subsisted on nothing but hot water and two-penny rolls.
Over the next fifteen years, his life changed utterly. He published Atala, René, and The Genius of Christianity to acclaim and epoch-making scandal. He strolled the streets of Jerusalem and mapped the ruins of Carthage. He served Napoleon in Rome, then resigned in protest after the Duc d’Enghien’s execution, putting his own life at tremendous risk. For these were also the years of Bonaparte’s secret police, censorship, and warmongering—all of which Chateaubriand would come to oppose.
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, 1800–1815—the second volume in Alex Andriesse’s new and complete translation of this epic French classic—is a chronicle of triumphs and sorrows, narrating not only the author’s life during a tumultuous period in European history but the “parallel life” of Napoleon, from his birth on Corsica to his death on Saint Helena. In these pages, Chateaubriand continues to paint his distinctive self-portrait, in which the whole history of France swirls around the sitter like a mist of dreams.