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French National Library buys Chateaubriand manuscript for nation

media Portrait of Chateaubriand, 1808 Directmedia Publishing GmbH

A unique manuscript, signed by François-René de Chateaubriand, is to be bought by the French National Library.

The manuscript of Mémoires d'outre-tombe (Memoirs from beyond the Grave) was written by secretaries and signed by Chateaubriand in 1847, and it is the only complete copy of the huge work.

The Mémoires cover 3,514 pages in ten volumes and the estimated value of the manuscript is between 400,000 and 500,000 euro.

Chateaubriand burned most of his drafts and usually dictated his texts to a secretary.

Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti said the manuscript should be considered a national treasure and she hailed the “state’s exceptional acquisition" which, she said, was agreed with the owner on friendly terms.

“This is the only version which allows us to understand the architecture of the work in the way the author wanted it,” she noted, adding that the National Library of France possessed another copy, which was very incomplete.

The manuscript was owned by a descendant of Monsieur Cahouët, the Paris notary who was given it for safekeeping in 1847. It was withdrawn from an auction scheduled for Tuesday after the sale was agreed.

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