A study of Chateaubriand's Atala with special reference to its American sources
Lawson, Florence Mildred
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This is Atala, a tale which, according to Chateaubriand, "sort de toutes les routes connues , et qui présente une nature et des moeurs tout à fait étrangères à l’Europe.” Chateaubriand might better have said that he had followed certain well known roads, but that he had followed them further than those who had marked them out. It has been definitely proved, as we shall show, that he found his idealized and romantic conception of the American Indian in the writings of a comparatively, small group of writers. But it is not enough to say that he owes a debt to these writers only, for they themselves, in many instances, had obtained their information from earlier writers. Careful perusal of previous works reveals the fact that some of these widely acclaimed authorities have been mere compilers or have written supposedly original works, which in truth owe their importance to wholesale borrowing. Thus a study of the source of Chateaubriand’s inspiration takes us back to the first writings following the discovery of the New World.