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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 ...

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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... Henri Beyle was born in what could reasonably count as Year I of the modern era, since it was then, in 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 ...
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. Reviewing Stendhal’s last book, The Charterhouse of Parma, when it appeared in 1839 ...

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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... White Devil Webster speaks of ‘those ignorant asses who visiting stationers’ shops, their use is 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 ...

A Pair of Yellow Gloves

Tim Parks: Stendhal’s ‘Italian Chronicles’

18 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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... sparkling conversationalist and incorrigible womaniser – that the reader may despair of conceiving 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 ...
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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... that pervades everything, including our consolations. At the beginning of Vertigo (Sebald’s third 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 ...

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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... is the novel whose author knows that what he describes should be ‘powerful’ and ‘disturbing’ 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 ...
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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... style, some contributors do the plain, teacherly thing, and stay out of sight; others are over-clever 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 ...

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 ...


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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... the brilliant literary inventions. Few people have combined so many achievements with greater ease and 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 ...
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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... There is nothing enigmatic about 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 ...

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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... is a little misleading, but this move also helps us to understand the claims in play: ‘One always fails 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 ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Spun and Unspun

7 August 2003
... Stendhal once observed that to introduce politics into a work of fiction was like firing a pistol during a performance in the theatre, a loud and unwanted intrusion of the real on a setting all calculated ...

Missing Mother

Graham Robb: Romanticism

19 October 2000
Romanticism and Its Discontents 
by Anita Brookner.
Viking, 208 pp., £25, September 2000, 0 670 89212 2
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... and declared Romanticism to be primarily an effect of climate. Victor Hugo and his followers allied it to the vanished monarchy, then to the departed Napoleon, and finally to ‘liberalism in art’. Stendhal and Baudelaire produced more durable definitions by linking it to the present. For Stendhal, ‘Romanticism is the art of offering people the literary works which, in the present state of their ...

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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... a lady’s conversation is better than a man’s.’ She was not used to such attitudes: ‘For some 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 ...

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