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The Horror of Money

Michael Wood, 8 December 1988

The Pink and the Green 
by Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Hamish Hamilton, 148 pp., £10.95, July 1988, 0 241 12289 9
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Stendhal’s Violin: A Novelist and his Reader 
by Roger Pearson.
Oxford, 294 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 815851 3
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... Stendhal wrote compulsively from an early age. He scribbled copious advice to himself in a diary, coached his elder sister by correspondence, wrote travel books, autobiographies, a treatise on love, books on composers and painters. He wrote fast too, completed Le Rouge et le Noir while he was receiving the proofs of the work’s earlier chapters, and notoriously dashed off the whole of La Chartreuse de Parme in seven weeks ...

Englishing Ourselves

F.W.J. Hemmings, 18 December 1980

by Robert Alter.
Allen and Unwin, 285 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 04 928042 2
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... 1783, that the independence of the United States was formally recognised by the European powers. Stendhal made his appearance 34 years later, when a travel guide to Italy was published in Paris as the work of ‘M. de Stendhal, officier de cavalerie’. Had that pseudonymous cavalry officer, Beyle in real life, perished in ...

Gide’s Cuttlefish

John Bayley, 17 February 2000

The Charterhouse of Parma 
by Henri B. Stendhal, translated by Richard Howard.
Modern Library, 688 pp., £20.95, January 1999, 0 679 60245 3
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... The best thing on Stendhal in English is an essay by Lytton Strachey in which he remarks the way the author denovelises the novel while skilfully retaining all its traditional apparatus. Stendhal’s imagination is a kind of parody of Scott’s: his sensibility is itself its own journal and his own memoir ...

A Pair of Yellow Gloves

Tim Parks: Stendhal’s ‘Italian Chronicles’, 19 October 2017

Italian Chronicles 
by Stendhal, translated by Raymond MacKenzie.
Minnesota, 344 pp., £20.99, May 2017, 978 1 5179 0011 3
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... any overall project undertaken by the man baptised Marie-Henri Beyle in 1783. Aside from ‘Stendhal’ there were scores of pseudonyms, any number of unfinished writings and thousands of letters and journal pages in which Beyle often signs himself or even refers to himself using a variety of other names. Codes and red herrings abound. Major life plans ...

Lucky Lucien

Stephen Vizinczey, 20 February 1986

Lucien Leuwen 
by Stendhal, translated by H.L.R. Edwards.
Boydell and Brewer, 624 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 85115 228 7
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... not to inquire for good books but new books’. I’m reminded of Webster by the fact that one of Stendhal’s great novels was not translated into English until 1951, 33 years had to go by before it was reprinted, and no publication – at least, none that I’m aware of – has taken any notice of the new Boydell Press edition. Lucien Leuwen does not have ...

I thought I saw Dante in Gonzagagasse

Jenny Diski: W.G. Sebald, 3 February 2000

by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 263 pp., £16.99, December 1999, 1 86046 623 0
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... publication in the UK, though the first chronologically, we are told), Marie Henri Beyle (aka Stendhal) is said to suffer severe disappointment on discovering that his vivid youthful memory of sunset over the town of Ivrea, where he was once billeted, is in fact a copy of an engraving of the scene he came across later. ‘This being so,’ Sebald ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... or too flamboyant by half – an especially ill-judged chapter is D.A. Miller’s on Balzac and Stendhal: ‘Body Bildung and Textual Liberation’ – let the title be a warning. But then there is not much sign that the general editor, Denis Hollier, has tried to keep his authors in check, or sent round a reminder that, as the publisher’s foreword ...

You’ve got to get used to it

John Bayley: David Piper, 15 October 1998

I am well, who are you? 
by David Piper, edited by Anne Piper.
Anne Piper, 96 pp., £12, March 1998, 0 9532123 0 0
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... so he or she dutifully makes it powerful and disturbing, and it becomes very dull.) Oddly enough, Stendhal, the pioneer of accounts of a modern battlefield, only experienced one minor Napoleonic battle himself – Bautzen – and that in the role of a quartermaster. But he had been in the retreat from Moscow. These experiences were quite enough for a writer ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Google Street View, 9 April 2009

... Stendhal said that the novel was ‘a mirror that one walks down a road’, ‘un miroir qu’on promène le long d’un chemin’. Although this maxim is generally agreed to be a masterful summary of the realist project in fiction, it has always brought out a literal streak in me. How much would the mirror show? Wouldn’t everything depend on how big it was? Who would be looking into it? They wouldn’t have much of a view, would they? Is the novelist the person who’s carrying the mirror, or is she standing by the side of the road looking at the mirror, in which case isn’t that a bit passive, given that it’s presumably meant to be her novel? Would the mirror change angle, so you could see more of what was going on? We can all relax ...

In qualified praise of Stephen Vizinczey

Bryan Appleyard, 24 July 1986

Truth and Lies in Literature: Reviews and Essays 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 399 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 241 11805 0
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In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of A.V. 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 192 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 241 11378 4
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... Stephen Vizinczey. He has views, he shouts, cajoles, threatens and sneers. He worships Kleist and Stendhal, loathes William Styron and Sainte-Beuve, is conspicuously silent about Flaubert and seems to have a love-hate relationship with Nabokov. He delights in summoning up his rhetoric of loathing for the Nazis and the Mafia and in distilling hard, frequently ...


Wendy Steiner, 19 October 1995

Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures 
by Renate Stendhal.
Thames and Hudson, 286 pp., £14.95, March 1995, 0 500 27832 6
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‘Favoured Strangers’: Gertrude Stein and Her Family 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 346 pp., $34.95, August 1995, 0 8135 2169 6
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... satisfaction, and for this and for all that she dared. Stein is an unforgettable figure. Renate Stendhal, who has translated Stein into German and edited Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures, shows how important Stein’s example has been for women writers: ‘I have observed the impact of her inspiration, leading from a first uncensored thought to a daring ...

Let the cork out

John Bayley, 26 October 1989

Foucault’s Pendulum 
by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 641 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 436 14096 9
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The Open Work 
by Umberto Eco, translated by Anna Cancogni.
Radius, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1989, 0 09 175896 3
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... Stendhal, or Lieutenant Henri Beyle, as he then was, irritated his shivering companions round the campfire on the retreat from Moscow by chuckling aloud over a tattered copy of Voltaire’s Diatribe of Dr Akakia. But laughing at human folly is more often a comfortable activity reserved for the study and the reading-room ...

On His Trapeze

Michael Wood: Roland Barthes, 17 November 2016

Barthes: A Biography 
by Tiphaine Samoyault, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 586 pp., £25, December 2016, 978 1 5095 0565 4
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... in speaking of what one loves.’ This is what we are tempted to assert, Barthes suggests, of Stendhal’s evocations of Italy in his journals, and by extension of almost anything that matters to us, once we try to put it into words. It is the phrase ‘we are entitled to repeat mournfully (or tragically)’. But now we’re showing off in our ...


Colm Tóibín: Sex Lives of the Castrati, 8 October 2015

The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds 
by Martha Feldman.
California, 454 pp., £40, March 2015, 978 0 520 27949 0
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Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani 
by Roger Freitas.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £22.99, May 2014, 978 1 107 69610 5
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... the term; he was an infallible singing machine.’ But nothing is fixed in this shadowy world. Stendhal, in his Life of Rossini, favoured castrati who valued ‘spontaneity, improvisation, originality’; he enjoyed ‘the native quality of each individual voice, including its timbre and its distinct registers’. He devoted a short chapter to a rapturous ...

A Stick on Fire

Gillian Beer, 7 February 1985

Clarkey: A Portrait in Letters of Mary Clarke Mohl 1793-1883 
by Margaret Lesser.
Oxford, 235 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 19 211787 4
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George Eliot and Community: A Study in Social Theory and Fictional Form 
by Suzanne Graver.
California, 340 pp., £22.70, August 1984, 0 520 04802 4
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... sixty years she was the centre of a circle – or rather successive circles – which included Stendhal, Mérimée, Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Tocqueville, Delacroix, Thiers, Renan, Turgenev. Her English friends included not only Mrs Gaskell but George Eliot, Harriet Martineau, the Thackerays, the Brownings, the Trollopes, the Stanleys, the Russells ... To ...

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