Marie-Henri Beyle (French: [bɛl]; 23 January 1783 – 23 March 1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal (/ˈstɒ̃dɑːl, stɛnˈdɑːl, stæn-/; French: [stɛ̃dal, stɑ̃-]), was a 19th-century French writer. Best known for the novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839), he is highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters' psychology and considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism.
Stendhal, by Olof Johan Södermark, 1840
|Born||23 January 1783|
Grenoble, Kingdom of France
|Died||23 March 1842 (aged 59)|
Paris, July Monarchy
|Resting place||Cimetière de Montmartre|
Born in Grenoble, Isère, he was an unhappy child, disliking his "unimaginative" father and mourning his mother, whom he passionately loved, and who died when he was seven. His closest friend was his younger sister, Pauline, with whom he maintained a steady correspondence throughout the first decade of the 19th century.
The military and theatrical worlds of the First French Empire were a revelation to Beyle. He was named an auditor with the Conseil d'État on 3 August 1810, and thereafter took part in the French administration and in the Napoleonic wars in Italy. He travelled extensively in Germany and was part of Napoleon's army in the 1812 invasion of Russia.
Stendhal witnessed the burning of Moscow from just outside the city. Stendhal was appointed Commissioner of War Supplies and sent to Smolensk to prepare provisions for the returning army. He crossed the Berezina River by finding a usable ford rather than the overwhelmed pontoon bridge, which probably saved his life and those of his companions. Stendhal arrived in Paris in 1813, largely unaware of the general fiasco that the retreat had become. Stendhal became known, during the Russian campaign, for keeping his wits about him, and maintaining his "sang-froid and clear-headedness." He also maintained his daily routine, shaving each day during the retreat from Moscow.
After the 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau, he left for Italy, where he settled in Milan. He formed a particular attachment to Italy, where he spent much of the remainder of his career, serving as French consul at Trieste and Civitavecchia. His novel The Charterhouse of Parma, written in 52 days, is set in Italy, which he considered a more sincere and passionate country than Restoration France. An aside in that novel, referring to a character who contemplates suicide after being jilted, speaks about his attitude towards his home country: "To make this course of action clear to my French readers, I must explain that in Italy, a country very far away from us, people are still driven to despair by love."
Stendhal identified with the nascent liberalism and his sojourn in Italy convinced him that Romanticism was essentially the literary counterpart of liberalism in politics. When Stendhal was appointed to a consular post in Trieste in 1830, Metternich refused his exequatur on account of Stendhal's liberalism and anti-clericalism.
Stendhal was a dandy and wit about town in Paris, as well as an obsessive womaniser. His genuine empathy towards women is evident in his books; Simone de Beauvoir spoke highly of him in The Second Sex. One of his early works is On Love, a rational analysis of romantic passion that was based on his unrequited love for Mathilde, Countess Dembowska, whom he met while living at Milan. This fusion of, and tension between, clear-headed analysis and romantic feeling is typical of Stendhal's great novels; he could be considered a Romantic realist.
Stendhal suffered miserable physical disabilities in his final years as he continued to produce some of his most famous work. As he noted in his journal, he was taking iodide of potassium and quicksilver to treat his syphilis, resulting in swollen armpits, difficulty swallowing, pains in his shrunken testicles, sleeplessness, giddiness, roaring in the ears, racing pulse and "tremors so bad he could scarcely hold a fork or a pen". Modern medicine has shown that his health problems were more attributable to his treatment than to his syphilis.
Stendhal died on 23 March 1842, a few hours after collapsing with a seizure on the streets of Paris. He is interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre.
Before settling on the pen name Stendhal, he published under many pen names, including "Louis Alexandre Bombet" and "Anastasius Serpière". The only book that Stendhal published under his own name was The History of Painting (1817). From the publication of Rome, Naples, Florence (September 1817) onwards, he published his works under the pseudonym "M. de Stendhal, officier de cavalerie". He borrowed this nom de plume from the German city of Stendal, birthplace of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, an art historian and archaeologist famous at the time.
In 1807 Stendhal stayed near Stendal, where he fell in love with a woman named Wilhelmine, whom he called Minette, and for whose sake he remained in the city. "I have no inclination, now, except for Minette, for this blonde and charming Minette, this soul of the north, such as I have never seen in France or Italy." Stendhal added an additional "H" to make more clear the Germanic pronunciation.
Stendhal used many aliases in his autobiographical writings and correspondence, and often assigned pseudonyms to friends, some of whom adopted the names for themselves. Stendhal used more than a hundred pseudonyms, which were astonishingly diverse. Some he used no more than once, while others he returned to throughout his life. "Dominique" and "Salviati" served as intimate pet names. He coins comic names "that make him even more bourgeois than he really is: Cotonnet, Bombet, Chamier.":80 He uses many ridiculous names: "Don phlegm", "Giorgio Vasari", "William Crocodile", "Poverino", "Baron de Cutendre". One of his correspondents, Prosper Mérimée, said: "He never wrote a letter without signing a false name."
Stendhal's Journal and autobiographical writings include many comments on masks and the pleasures of "feeling alive in many versions." "Look upon life as a masked ball," is the advice that Stendhal gives himself in his diary for 1814.:85 In Memoirs of an Egotist he writes: "Will I be believed if I say I'd wear a mask with pleasure and be delighted to change my name?...for me the supreme happiness would be to change into a lanky, blonde German and to walk about like that in Paris."
Contemporary readers did not fully appreciate Stendhal's realistic style during the Romantic period in which he lived. He was not fully appreciated until the beginning of the 20th century. He dedicated his writing to "the Happy Few" (in English in the original). This can be interpreted as a reference to Canto 11 of Lord Byron's Don Juan, which refers to "the thousand happy few" who enjoy high society, or to the "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers" line of William Shakespeare's Henry V, but Stendhal's use more likely refers to The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith, parts of which he had memorized in the course of teaching himself English.
In The Vicar of Wakefield, "the happy few" refers ironically to the small number of people who read the title character's obscure and pedantic treatise on monogamy. As a literary critic, such as in Racine and Shakespeare, Stendhal championed the Romantic aesthetic by unfavorably comparing the rules and strictures of Jean Racine's classicism to the freer verse and settings of Shakespeare, and supporting the writing of plays in prose.
Today, Stendhal's works attract attention for their irony and psychological and historical dimensions. Stendhal was an avid fan of music, particularly the works of the composers Domenico Cimarosa, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gioacchino Rossini. He wrote a biography of Rossini, Vie de Rossini (1824), now more valued for its wide-ranging musical criticism than for its historical content.
Stendhal's brief memoir, Souvenirs d'Égotisme (Memoirs of an Egotist) was published posthumously in 1892. Also published was a more extended autobiographical work, thinly disguised as the Life of Henry Brulard.
His other works include short stories, journalism, travel books (A Roman Journal), a famous collection of essays on Italian painting, and biographies of several prominent figures of his time, including Napoleon, Haydn, Mozart, Rossini and Metastasio.
In Stendhal's 1822 classic On Love he describes or compares the "birth of love", in which the love object is 'crystallized' in the mind, as being a process similar or analogous to a trip to Rome. In the analogy, the city of Bologna represents indifference and Rome represents perfect love:
When we are in Bologna, we are entirely indifferent; we are not concerned to admire in any particular way the person with whom we shall perhaps one day be madly in love; even less is our imagination inclined to overrate their worth. In a word, in Bologna "crystallization" has not yet begun. When the journey begins, love departs. One leaves Bologna, climbs the Apennines, and takes the road to Rome. The departure, according to Stendhal, has nothing to do with one's will; it is an instinctive moment. This transformative process actuates in terms of four steps along a journey:
This journey or crystallization process (shown above) was detailed by Stendhal on the back of a playing card while speaking to Madame Gherardi, during his trip to the Salzburg salt mine.
Hippolyte Taine considered the psychological portraits of Stendhal's characters to be "real, because they are complex, many-sided, particular and original, like living human beings." Émile Zola concurred with Taine's assessment of Stendhal's skills as a "psychologist", and although emphatic in his praise of Stendhal's psychological accuracy and rejection of convention, he deplored the various implausibilities of the novels and Stendhal's clear authorial intervention.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche refers to Stendhal as "France's last great psychologist" in Beyond Good and Evil (1886). He also mentions Stendhal in the Twilight of the Idols (1889) during a discussion of Dostoevsky as a psychologist, saying that encountering Dostoevsky was "the most beautiful accident of my life, more so than even my discovery of Stendhal".
Ford Madox Ford, in The English Novel, asserts that to Diderot and Stendhal "the Novel owes its next great step forward...At that point it became suddenly evident that the Novel as such was capable of being regarded as a means of profoundly serious and many-sided discussion and therefore as a medium of profoundly serious investigation into the human case."
Erich Auerbach considers modern "serious realism" to have begun with Stendhal and Balzac. In Mimesis, he remarks of a scene in The Red and the Black that "it would be almost incomprehensible without a most accurate and detailed knowledge of the political situation, the social stratification, and the economic circumstances of a perfectly definite historical moment, namely, that in which France found itself just before the July Revolution."
In Auerbach's view, in Stendhal's novels "characters, attitudes, and relationships of the dramatis personæ, then, are very closely connected with contemporary historical circumstances; contemporary political and social conditions are woven into the action in a manner more detailed and more real than had been exhibited in any earlier novel, and indeed in any works of literary art except those expressly purporting to be politico-satirical tracts."
Even Stendhal's autobiographical works, such as The Life of Henry Brulard or Memoirs of an Egotist, are "far more closely, essentially, and concretely connected with the politics, sociology, and economics of the period than are, for example, the corresponding works of Rousseau or Goethe; one feels that the great events of contemporary history affected Stendhal much more directly than they did the other two; Rousseau did not live to see them, and Goethe had managed to keep aloof from them." Auerbach goes on to say:
We may ask ourselves how it came about that modern consciousness of reality began to find literary form for the first time precisely in Henri Beyle of Grenoble. Beyle-Stendhal was a man of keen intelligence, quick and alive, mentally independent and courageous, but not quite a great figure. His ideas are often forceful and inspired, but they are erratic, arbitrarily advanced, and, despite all their show of boldness, lacking in inward certainty and continuity. There is something unsettled about his whole nature: his fluctuation between realistic candor in general and silly mystification in particulars, between cold self-control, rapturous abandonment to sensual pleasures, and insecure and sometimes sentimental vaingloriousness, is not always easy to put up with; his literary style is very impressive and unmistakably original, but it is short-winded, not uniformly successful, and only seldom wholly takes possession of and fixes the subject. But, such as he was, he offered himself to the moment; circumstances seized him, tossed him about, and laid upon him a unique and unexpected destiny; they formed him so that he was compelled to come to terms with reality in a way which no one had done before him.
Vladimir Nabokov was dismissive of Stendhal, in Strong Opinions calling him "that pet of all those who like their French plain". In the notes to his translation of Eugene Onegin, he asserts that Le Rouge et le Noir is "much overrated", and that Stendhal has a "paltry style". In Pnin Nabokov wrote satirically, "Literary departments still labored under the impression that Stendhal, Galsworthy, Dreiser, and Mann were great writers."
Michael Dirda considers Stendhal "the greatest all round French writer – author of two of the top 20 French novels, author of a highly original autobiography (Vie de Henry Brulard), a superb travel writer, and as inimitable a presence on the page as any writer you'll ever meet."
In 1817 Stendhal was reportedly overcome by the cultural richness of Florence he encountered when he first visited the Tuscan city. As he described in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio:
As I emerged from the porch of Santa Croce, I was seized with a fierce palpitation of the heart (that same symptom which, in Berlin, is referred to as an attack of the nerves); the well-spring of life was dried up within me, and I walked in constant fear of falling to the ground.
The condition was diagnosed and named in 1979 by Italian psychiatrist Dr. Graziella Magherini, who had noticed similar psychosomatic conditions (racing heart beat, nausea and dizziness) amongst first-time visitors to the city.
...the novelist Stendhal, an officer in the commissariat, who was still among the luckiest men on the retreat, having preserved his carriage.
If the plagiarisms of Stendhal are legion, many are virtually translations: that is, cross-border plagiarism. Maurevert reports that Goethe, commenting enthusiastically on Stendhal's Rome, Naples et Florence, notes in a letter to a friend: 'he knows very well how to use what one reports to him, and, above all, he knows well how to appropriate foreign works. He translates passages from my Italian Journey and claims to have heard the anecdote recounted by a marchesina.'
The Coppet group (Groupe de Coppet), also known as the Coppet circle, was an informal intellectual and literary gathering centered on Germaine de Staël during the time period between the French Revolution and the Bourbon Restoration at Coppet Castle. The group had a considerable influence on the development of nineteenth century liberalism and romanticism. Stendhal referred to it as "the Estates General of European opinion."Krister Stendahl
Krister Stendahl (21 April 1921 – 15 April 2008) was a Swedish theologian and New Testament scholar, and Church of Sweden Bishop of Stockholm. He also served as professor and professor emeritus at Harvard Divinity School.Lovers of Toledo
Lovers of Toledo (French: Les amants de Tolède) is a 1953 historical film directed by Henri Decoin and Fernando Palacios and starring Alida Valli, Pedro Armendáriz and Françoise Arnoul. It was a co-production between France, Italy and Spain.Lucien Leuwen
Lucien Leuwen is the second major novel written by French author Stendhal in 1834, following The Red and the Black (1830). It remained unfinished due to the political culture of the July Monarchy in the 1830s and Stendhal's fears of losing his government position by offending the administration. It was published posthumously in 1894.Lycée Stendhal
The lycée Stendhal, formerly Cité scolaire Stendhal, is a secondary and higher education establishment in Grenoble. It is the oldest lycée in Grenoble, and its pupils have included Stendhal (after whom it is now named) and Champollion. It is located at 1 bis, place Jean-Achard, and can be visited by the public on certain Saturdays.Lycée Stendhal de Milan
Lycée Stendhal de Milan is a French international school in Milan, Italy. It serves maternelle (preschool), until lycée (senior high school).Memoirs of an Egotist
Souvenirs d’égotisme (French for Memoirs of an Egotist) is an autobiographical work by Stendhal. It was written in 13 days in June and July 1832 while the author was staying in Civitavecchia. Stendhal recounts his life in Paris and London from 1821 to 1830. It includes candid and spirited descriptions of contemporaries such as Lafayette, Madame Pasta, Destutt de Tracy, Mérimée, and Charles de Rémusat. The story remained unfinished and was not published until 1892 by Casimir Stryienski.Paris syndrome
Paris syndrome (French: Syndrome de Paris, Japanese: パリ症候群, Pari shōkōgun) is a condition exhibited by some individuals when visiting or going on vacation to Paris, as a result of extreme shock at discovering that Paris is different from their expectations. The syndrome is characterized by a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (perceptions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, and others, such as vomiting. Similar syndromes include Jerusalem syndrome and Stendhal syndrome. The condition is commonly viewed as a severe form of culture shock. It is particularly noted among Japanese travelers. It is not listed as a recognised condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.Renate Stendhal
Renate Stendhal, Ph.D. (born Renate Neumann, January 1, 1944) is an award-winning writer, writing coach and counselor. German-born and Paris-educated, she now lives in California. Her recent memoir Kiss Me Again, Paris: A Memoir was a Lambda Literary Awards Finalist and won an International Book Award. Her offices are in the San Francisco Bay Area.Stendhal University
Stendhal University (French: Université Stendhal, also known as Grenoble III) was a university located in the outskirts of Grenoble, France that offered courses in foreign languages and cultures, ancient and modern literature, language and communication sciences. Having traditionally focused on training educators, it has more recently become known for preparing students for careers in journalism, communication and culture.
Each year, the CUEF (University Center for French Studies) educated over 3,000 foreign students through various exchange programs in fields covering the entire spectrum of French studies.
The last president was Lise Dumasy.Stendhal syndrome
Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal's syndrome or Florence syndrome is a psychosomatic condition involving rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations, allegedly occurring when individuals become exposed to objects or phenomena of great beauty.The Charterhouse of Parma
The Charterhouse of Parma (French: La Chartreuse de Parme) is a novel by Stendhal published in 1839. Telling the story of an Italian nobleman in the Napoleonic era and later, it was admired by Balzac, Tolstoy, André Gide and Henry James. It was inspired by an inauthentic Italian account of the dissolute youth of Alessandro Farnese. The novel has been adapted for opera, film and television.The Charterhouse of Parma (film)
The Charterhouse of Parma (French: La Chartreuse de Parme, Italian: La Certosa di Parma) is a 1948 French-Italian drama film based on the novel of the same name by Stendhal. It entered the competition at the 1948 Locarno International Film Festival, being awarded for best cinematography.It was the most popular film at the French box office in 1948.The Courier of the King
The Courier of the King (Italian: Il corriere del re) is a 1947 Italian historical film directed by Gennaro Righelli and starring Rossano Brazzi, Irasema Dilián and Valentina Cortese. It is an adaptation of the 1830 novel The Red and the Black by Stendhal. It was the final film of the veteran director Righelli, who had previously directed a silent version of the story in 1928.The Red and the Black
Le Rouge et le Noir (French pronunciation: [lə ʁuʒ e lə nwaʁ], French for The Red and the Black) is a historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830. It chronicles the attempts of a provincial young man to rise socially beyond his modest upbringing through a combination of talent, hard work, deception, and hypocrisy. He ultimately allows his passions to betray him.
The novel's full title, Le Rouge et le Noir: Chronique du XIXe siècle (The Red and the Black: A Chronicle of the 19th Century), indicates its twofold literary purpose as both a psychological portrait of the romantic protagonist, Julien Sorel, and an analytic, sociological satire of the French social order under the Bourbon Restoration (1814–30). In English, Le Rouge et le Noir is variously translated as Red and Black, Scarlet and Black, and The Red and the Black, without the subtitle.The title is taken to refer to the tension between the clerical (black) and secular (red) interests of the protagonist, but this interpretation is but one of many.The Red and the Black (film)
The Red and the Black (French: Le rouge et le noir) is a 1954 French drama film directed by Claude Autant-Lara, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, based on the novel The Red and the Black by Stendhal. The film starred Gérard Philipe, Antonella Lualdi and Danielle Darrieux, and won the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics award for the best film of 1955 and the Grand Prix de l'Académie du Cinéma the same year.
Shown in various versions, the film's length is generally given as 113 minutes. In Canada it was 171 minutes; a longer version in France was 185 minutes（or 194 minutes in 2 parts） and at its New York opening it was 137 minutes.The Secret Courier
The Secret Courier (German: Der geheime Kurier) is a 1928 German silent adventure film directed by Gennaro Righelli and starring Lil Dagover, Ivan Mozzhukhin and Agnes Petersen.The film's art direction was by Otto Erdmann and Hans Sohnle.The Stendhal Syndrome
The Stendhal Syndrome (Ital. La Sindrome di Stendhal) is a 1996 Italian horror film written and directed by Dario Argento and starring his daughter Asia Argento. It was the first Italian film to use computer-generated imagery (CGI).Stendhal syndrome is considered a real syndrome by some, first diagnosed in Florence, Italy in 1982. Argento said he experienced Stendhal syndrome as a child. While touring Athens with his parents young Dario was climbing the steps of the Parthenon when he was overcome by a trance that caused him to become lost from his parents for hours. The experience was so strong that Argento never forgot it; he immediately thought of it when he came across Graziella Magherini's book about the syndrome, which would become the basis of the film.
It was a box office hit when released in Italy, grossing ₤5,443,000,000 Italian lira (US $3,809,977).Vanina Vanini (film)
Vanina Vanini also known as The Betrayer is a 1961 Italian drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. It is based on Stendhal's 1829 novella of the same name.
Works by Stendhal
Stendhal's The Red and the Black (1830)