Dec. 4, 1997
Vol. 17, No. 6

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    Morrissey receives France's Chateaubriand

    Award given for book that analyzes use of Charlemagne as icon Robert Morrissey, Associate Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures, has been awarded the 1997 Chateaubriand Grand Prize in History for his book L'empereur a la barbe fleurie: Charlemagne, dans la mythologie et l'histoire de France.

    The book, the title of which is perhaps best understood as Charlemagne and France: A Thousand Years of Mythistory, analyzes the social and political use of Charlemagne as an icon.

    "This prize is obviously a wonderful honor," Morrissey said. "Because he is both an epic hero and a historical founding father, the figure of Charlemagne is uniquely situated at the confluence of history, politics and literature. I used him as a looking glass through which to view the transformations of French identity over time. This study was for me a fascinating trip through French history, which has taken on unexpected resonance in the context of the treaty of Maastrict and the creation of Europe."

    The prize, awarded by a jury including members of the French Academy and the French Institute, is given to one author each year for his or her work in French history. Funded by the government of Hauts-de-Seine, a department in northern France, the prize comes with an award of 100,000 francs, about $20,000. Morrissey is the 11th author to receive the honor.