I recycled my tattered copy of Atala but found in it these yellowed notes, that I will transcribe and decipher later. I see that I have always been interested in the same things.
Atala: le récit.
1. LES CHASSEURS. Chactas and his father are allied with Spaniards against Muscogles (Indians). Chactas is a prisoner of war, saved by the Spaniard López; he leaves to return to his own people but is caught and condemned again by the Muscolges. Here he meets Atala who has cnverted to christianity. She comes to talk to him every night as they march toward where he will be burned.
Atala tries to release Chactas; he wants her to go (with him? — I have to check on this) but she cannot because she is Christian. She has untied him from a tree, and they take a walk and cry. He feels lost in love, and she wants him to flee.
The name Atala means daughter of the palm-tree country.
Autrefois there was a vast empire in “septentrional” America; Louisiana was the new Eden; nature was powerful and wild (and is described at length). Chactas is of the Natchez people and he has “acheté la vertu par línfortune.” He has been taken as a galley-slave to Marseille and presented to Louis XIV; he has seen plays by Racine, and more. Now he is home, but he is blind. He loves France and wants to help the French, so he is happy to receive René, the civilized man who wants to become Indian.
They go hunting. René asks Chactas to tell his story; his story is this book.