"One Can Acquire Everything In Solitude–except Character"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Stendhal, pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle, has become a figure of increasing importance in French literature, and his appeal to the modern reader is undoubtedly stronger than it was to his contemporaries. Indeed, he disliked France and, after participating in several campaigns of the Napoleonic wars, lived for a number of years in Italy; consequently, his works were not largely read during his lifetime. However, a close analyst of emotions, thoughts, and motives, he was hailed later in the 19th century as a precursor of Balzac, and he influenced Bourget, Taine, and Zola, among others. His fame rests chiefly on two of his four novels, Le Rouge et le Noir (1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (1839). The first is a psychological novel dealing with the life of a brilliant, ambitious, and unscrupulous young man, Julian Sorel. The second, with its highly romantic plot and exciting picture of Italian court intrigue, was by far his most popular work. Stendhal's early writings were of a miscellaneous nature, including several biographies and a romantic novel, Armance. In 1822 he published De l' Amour, a series of notes on the effects of four kinds of love on a variety of temperaments. Appended to the essay was a section entitled "Fragments Divers," in which the author renders a "modest encore" of random afterthoughts with an apology for any repetition. Speaking of the power of love and the effect of companionship upon the personality, Stendhal writes:

One can acquire everything in solitude–except character.