The Charterhouse of Parma
The Charterhouse of Parma
As a novel, Stendahl’s The Charterhouse of Parma has it all: love and romance, political intrigue, deft detective work, and incisive social commentary.
Stendhal narrates a young aristocrat's adventures in Napoleon's army and in the court of Parma, illuminating in the process the whole cloth of European history.
Headstrong and naïve, the young Italian aristocrat Fabrizio del Dongo is determined to defy the wrath of his father and go to war to fight for Napoleon.
Fabrizio is determined to earn his stripes: yet after a sequence of confusing skirmishes in which he is robbed of his horse, mistaken for a spy and receives a flesh-wound from a member of his own side, he is left to ponder "was what he had seen a battle? And, secondly, was that battle Waterloo?"
He stumbles on the Battle of Waterloo, ill-prepared, yet filled with enthusiasm for war and glory.
Tiring of war, Fabrizio sneaks back to Milan, only to become embroiled in a series of amorous exploits, fueled by his impetuous nature and the political chicanery of his aunt Gina and her wily lover.
Judged by Balzac to be the most important French novel of its time, The Charterhouse of Parma is a compelling novel of extravagance and daring, blending the intrigues of the Italian court with the romance and excitement of youth.
Stendhal had an amazing, pre-Freudian grasp of psychology: more than most of his contemporaries, he understood our endless capacity for self-deception.
Andre Gide ranked ''Charterhouse'' as the greatest of all French novels, and one of only two French works that could be counted among the top 10 of world literature. (The other was ''Les Liaisons Dangereuses.'')
STENDAHL (1783-1842) pen name of Henri Marie Beyle, was born in Grenoble and educated at the École Centrale. He took a post in the Ministry of War, where he followed Napoleon’s campaigns in Italy, Germany, Russia and Austria. After the fall of Napoleon, he retired to Italy, adopted his pseudonym and started to write books on Italian painting, Haydn and Mozart. In 1821 he was expelled from the country, and upon returning to Paris finished his book De l’amour. This was followed by Racine et Shakespeare, a defense of Romantic literature. The Red and the Black, Souvenirs de l’egotisme, The Charterhouse of Parma and La Vie de Henri Brulard, were published later, as his worldwide fame and notoriety grew.
"An epic tale of war, love, sex, politics, and religion...an action-packed narrative."
—The New Yorker
"Never before have the hearts of princes, ministers, courtiers, and women been depicted like this. One sees perfection in every detail."
— Honoré de Balzac