From the literary, no less from the political, point of view the chief interest of the time belongs to Chateaubriand and Madame de Stael, whose writings did much to inaugerate the new movement which was to alter the character of French literature. Chateaubriand had visited America and seen something of savage life in the wilderness, which afterward formed the basis of picturesque and ideal descriptions. He was also a champion of the restoration of the Catholic religion, whose rites and churches had been wantonly assailed and overthrown in the French Revolution, yet had been reinstated in their former place under Napoleon. Chateaubriand regarded Christianity as "the most poetical of all religions, the most attractive, the most fertile in literary, artistic and social results." To prove his thesis and impress it on the minds and hearts of his countrymen he wrote his two splendid works, the Genius of Christianity and The Martyrs, which, by their powerful appeal to history and their imaginative beauty, had enormous influence on succeeding literary development. Madame de Stael, exiled by Napoleon, wandered to Germany and there became acquainted with Goethe and Schiller and their surroundings. Her description of this country in De l'Allemagne opened up to the rising generation in France treasures of literature and philosophy till then entirely unknown. Her romances, Delphine and Corinne, also led the imagination in new fields. Different as were the spirit, aim and style of these two writers, they combined in their enthusiasm in inaugurating what has become known as Romanticism.
Chateaubriand revived a longing for the simple faith of the medieval church and the beauties of chivalry. This was fostered by the writings of Sir Walter Scott, which were eagerly welcomed in France. A periodical called La Muse Français enlisted the services of ardent royalists; among them were Victor Hugo and...