His name may be associated with a fine meal, but French novelist Francois Rene, Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) has been called the "Father of Romanticism" in French Literature.
Born on this day at Saint-Malo, Brittany, Chateaubriand escaped the chaotic period following the French Revolution and traveled to America for a fresh perspective, in search of true liberty.
"Justice is the bread of the nation," he said. "It is always hungry for it."
Dressed as a trapper, he kept diaries of his travels through the regions of the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. He wrote with reverence for nature and the Native Americans, the "noble savage" described by philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.
Inspired by Johann von Goethe's Werther, Chateaubriand's poetic prose became his popular work, Atala (1801), a passionate portrait of post-revolutionary France.
"The heart feels, the head compares," he wrote.
In his time, Chateaubriand was an esteemed writer, spiritual guide, and high-ranking statesman who influenced Victor Hugo, Flaubert, George Sand, and many others. Chateaubriand created the solitary, mysterious hero in literature.
Hardly an imitation, he continues to live on... Each year the French Government awards about 20 Chateaubriand Fellowships to American PhD candidates who wish to conduct research in France.
There is also a delicious culinary tribute to Chateaubriand, thanks to gastronomy wizard Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who once said, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
Brillat-Savarin created a special dish to honor the Francois Rene: tenderloin served with mushrooms and béarnaise sauce. Chateaubriand steak was born!
Be original, not an imitation.