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: The Marquis de Custine was born in 1790 into an anti-revolutionary background, and brought up in exile by his mother and her lover, Chateaubriand (both his father and grandfather had been guillotined). As a young man he was banished from polite society as a result of a homosexual scandal, but remained a close friend of Stendhal and Balzac and was admired by Baudelaire for his dandyism. In 1835, when de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" became a bestseller, Balzac suggested that Custine should do for European perceptions of Russia what de Tocqueville had done for America. Custine went to Russia a monarchist and legitimist, but returned a constitutionalist. His "Lettres de Russie" (1839) invited comparison with de Tocqueville's "Anatomy of the Astute" .