Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chateaubriand's Atala - Review


Here is an unsolicited review of my translation of Chateuabriand's novel Atala, available in English and Spanish.


This is a delightful book. When I first came across it in graduate school, I thought it over the top escapism about noble savages engaged in overly purple prose.

 Now, many years later, I reevaluate the still valid perceptions. The book is a short and easy to take novel about heroic beings out of Beowolf, except these characters are much more eloquent however much the same Beowolf device of having the story framed again and again in its retelling is used to create the same distance and so raise the story into legend.

The book makes you understand why people at the turn into the Nineteenth Century liked warrior heroism: it was very satisfying to contemplate in countries first experiencing industrial smoke. You get a good read as well as a sense of the sophisticated Nineteenth Century consciousness trying, in its way, to get back to basics.

Atala provides a much more pleasant afternoon than a murder mystery and yet also mobilizes suspense, vivid characters, and interesting settings. You will like this novella if you like "The Last of the Mohicans".

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