FR de Chateaubriand
Rene, or Consequences of Passion
René, a young man of noble family, settles in a French colony in the wilds of Louisiana, among the Indian tribe of nazes. His past is shrouded in mystery. Rene’s penchant for melancholy makes him avoid the people’s society. The only exception is his foster father, the blind old man Shaktas, and the missionary of Fort Rosalie, father of Suel. In vain, however, they are trying to find out from Rene the reasons for his voluntary flight. For several years Renee hides his secret. When, having received a letter, he began to avoid both of his old friends, they convinced him to open their soul to them.
On the bank of the Mississippi, Renee decides to finally begin her story. “How miserable will my eternal concern seem to you!” – tells the father Suel and Shaktas Rene, “a young man, devoid of strength and valor, finding his suffering in himself,” and complaining only of the misfortunes that he himself caused.
His birth cost the life of his mother. He was educated far from his parents’ shelter and early manifested the fervor of nature and uneven character. Renee feels free only in the company of Sister Amelie, with whom, in close and gentle ties, he shares the similarity of his characters and tastes. They are also united by a certain sadness, hidden in the depths of the heart, a property bestowed by God.
Rene’s father dies on his hands, and the young man, first sensing the breath of death, thinks about the immortality of the soul. Before Renee, the deceptive ways of life open, but he can not choose any of them. He is tempted to hide from the world, reflecting on the bliss of monastic life. The Europeans, eternally anxious, create for themselves the abodes of silence. The more confusion and fuss in the human heart, the more attracted solitude and peace. But due to his inherent impermanence, Renee changes his intention and goes on a journey.
At first he visits the lands of the disappeared peoples, Greece and Rome, but soon he is bored with “rummaging in the graves” and discovering the “ashes of criminal people and deeds”. He wants to know whether there are more virtues and fewer misfortunes among living nations. Especially tries to get Renee to know the people of art and those divine chosen ones that glorify the gods and the happiness of peoples, honor laws and faith. But modernity does not show him beauty just as antiquity does not reveal the truth.
Soon Renee returns home. Once in his early childhood he happened to see the sunset of the great age. Now he passed. Never before with any people has there been a change so surprising and sudden: “the exaltation of the spirit, the reverence for faith, the severity of morals have been replaced by the resourcefulness of the mind, unbelief and depravity.” Soon in his homeland, Renee feels even more alone than in other countries.
Disrupts him and the inexplicable behavior of Sister Amelie, who left Paris a few days before his arrival. Renee decides to settle in the suburbs and live in complete obscurity.
At first he enjoys the existence of a man who is not known to anyone and who does not depend on anyone. He likes to mix with the crowd – a huge human desert. But in the end all this becomes unbearable for him. He decides to retire to the bosom of nature and there to finish his life journey.
Renee realizes that he is being... blamed for the impermanence of tastes, he is accused of constantly rushing past the goal he could achieve. Obsessed with a blind attraction, he is looking for some unknown good, and everything completed has no value in his eyes. And perfect solitude, and incessant contemplation of nature lead Rene to an indescribable state. He suffers from an excess of vitality and can not fill the bottomless emptiness of his existence. Then he experiences a state of rest, then he is in turmoil. Neither friendships, nor communication with the world, nor solitude – nothing Renee failed, everything turned out to be fatal. The feeling of disgust for life returns with renewed vigor. Monstrous boredom, like a strange ulcer, undermines Rene’s soul, and he decides to die.
However, you need to dispose of your property, and Renee writes a letter to her sister. Amelie feels the compulsion of the tone of this letter and soon instead of an answer comes to him. Amelie is the only creature in the world that Rene loves. Nature endowed Amelie with divine meekness, captivating and dreamy mind, feminine shyness, angelic purity and harmony of the soul. The meeting of the brother and sister brings them immeasurable joy.
After a while, however, Renee notices that Amelie begins to lose sleep and health, often sheds tears. One day Rene finds a letter addressed to him, from which it follows that Amelie decides to leave her brother forever and retire to the monastery. In this hasty flight, Renee suspects some mystery, perhaps passionate love, in which the sister does not dare to admit. He makes a final attempt to return his sister and comes to B., in a monastery. Refusing to accept Renee, Amelie allows him to attend the church during the rite of her tonsure in a nun. Rene is struck by the cold firmness of his sister. He is desperate, but forced to submit. Religion triumphs. Cut off with a sacred staff, Amelie’s hair falls. But to die for the world, she must go through the grave. Renee kneels before the marble slab on which Amelie lies, and suddenly hears her strange words: “God, merciful bless all the gifts of your brother, who did not share my criminal passion!” This is the terrible truth that Rene finally opens. Reason it is excruciated. The rite is interrupted.
Renee is in deep pain: he became the involuntary cause of his sister’s misfortune. Grief for him now is a permanent state. He makes a new decision: to leave Europe. Rene is waiting for the fleet to sail to America. He often wanders around the monastery, where Amelie took refuge. In a letter he received before leaving, she admits that time already softens her suffering.
On this Rene story ends. Sobbing, he holds out to the father of Suel the letter of the abbess of the monastery with the news of the death of Amelie, who contracted a dangerous illness while she was nursing other nuns. Shaktas comforts Rene. Father Suel, on the other hand, gives him a harsh rebuke: Renee does not deserve pity, his sorrows, in the true sense of the word, are nothing. “You can not consider yourself a person of a sublime soul only because the world seems to you to be hateful.” Everyone who has been given the strength to devote himself to serving his neighbor. Shaktas is convinced that happiness can only be found on the paths common to all people.
After a short while Renee dies together with Shaktas and Father Suel during the beating of the French and nachezov in Louisiana.
FR de Chateaubriand