Stendhal  

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Stendhal's depiction of the process of falling in love, from On Love, 1822
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Stendhal's depiction of the process of falling in love, from On Love, 1822

"Beauty is a promise of happiness" --On Love (1822) by Stendhal


"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." --Stendhal syndrome excerpt in Rome, Naples, and Florence by Stendhal, tr. unidentified.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Marie-Henri Beyle (January 23, 1783 – March 23, 1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal, was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology, he is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).

Contents

Crystallization

Crystallization (love)

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:

  1. Admiration – one marvels at the qualities of the loved one.
  2. Acknowledgement – one acknowledges the pleasantness of having gained the loved one's interest.
  3. Hope – one envisions gaining the love of the loved one.
  4. Delight – one delights in overrating the beauty and merit of the person whose love one hopes to win.

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.

Stendhal syndrome

Stendhal syndrome

In 1817 Stendhal reportedly was 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.

In homage to Stendhal, Trenitalia named their overnight train service from Paris to Venice the Stendhal Express.


Works

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 is often interpreted as a sly dedication to the few who understood or appreciated his writing. This can be interpreted as a reference to Canto 11 of 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 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 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 Racine's classicism to the freer verse and settings of Shakespeare, and supporting the writing of plays in prose. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche acknowledged his personal debt to the French writer in the Twilight of the Idols (when referring to Dostoevsky as the only psychologist from whom he had something to learn), stating that encountering him (Dostoevsky) was "the most beautiful accident of my life, more so than even my discovery of Stendhal".

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 Cimarosa, Mozart and 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.

In his works, Stendhal reprised, appropriated, excerpts from Giuseppe Carpani, Théophile Frédéric Winckler, Sismondi and others.

Novels

Novellas

Biography

Autobiography

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.

Non-fiction

His other works include short stories, journalism, travel books ('Promenades dans Rome), a famous collection of essays on Italian painting, and biographies of several prominent figures of his time, including Napoleon, Haydn, Mozart, Rossini and Metastasio.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stendhal" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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