Marie-Henri Beyle Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

0111201670-Stendhal.jpg Stendhal (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Stendhal (stehn-DAHL) is the most widely recognized pseudonym of Marie-Henri Beyle. He was born in Grenoble, a provincial city in the southeast of France, on January 23, 1783. He was alive during the time of the great upheaval in French and European society brought about, in the first place, by the French Revolution and subsequently by the rise and fall of Napoleon I. Stendhal had intimate experience with the latter phenomenon.

Grenoble was not a place where Stendhal felt at home. He had little time for its narrow outlook in matters of politics and religion, and its atmosphere was out of touch with the burgeoning spirit of liberty of the author’s boyhood. Much of what Stendhal came to oppose in human affairs and behavior he initially found in his father, with whom he was severely in conflict. This antagonism was made worse by, or perhaps had its source in, the death of the novelist’s mother when he was seven. In his candid and innovative, though unfinished, autobiography, Vie de Henri Brulard (wr. 1835-1836, pb. 1890; The Life of Henry Brulard, 1925), he details with almost embarrassing intimacy his love for his mother. This autobiography’s title draws attention to Stendhal’s love of pseudonyms. He is thought to have used more than two hundred pseudonyms.

In 1799, having completed his education at Grenoble, Stendhal went to Paris and enrolled in the École Polytechnique, intending to study mathematics. The attractions of the capital, however, soon militated against study, and by 1800 he had secured a commission in Napoleon’s army. His duties took him to Milan, where he began a lifelong love affair with Italy. One of the four Italian words inscribed on his tomb is “Milanese,” and it was in his adopted native city, finally free of the constraints of Grenoble, that he entered into the first of many ardent and arduous emotional liaisons.

His first visit to Milan lasted until 1802. In that year, he resigned his army commission and returned to...

(The entire section is 819 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Stendhal (stehn-dahl), the most “unromantic” figure of France’s Romantic period (1830-1848), ranks with Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, and Émile Zola as one of the greatest French novelists of the nineteenth century. He was born Marie-Henri Beyle in Grenoble, France, on January 23, 1783. Always of an independent nature, he left his birthplace at an early age to seek his fortune in Paris. Despite ambitions as a playwright, Stendhal obtained a position in the Ministry of War and, in 1800, became a dragoon in the army of Napoleon. As an aide-de-camp and later an imperial commissioner, he accompanied the army in the Italian, Prussian, and Russian campaigns, serving with distinction until the fall of Napoleon in 1814. Still a young man, he spent the next seven years in Milan, scene of The Charterhouse of Parma, one of his two masterpieces. The rest of his life was spent as an independent and stubborn consular officer of France, mainly in Civitavecchia. Tempestuous, and usually disastrous, love affairs occupied a considerable amount of his time, and some of the events connected with these are to be found in his writings. He died in Paris on March 23, 1842.{$S[A]Beyle, Marie-Henri;Stendhal}

Stendhal’s writing career began in 1814 in Milan. There he produced two studies, The Lives of Haydn and Mozart, with Observations on Métastase and Rome, Naples, and Florence, in 1817. He also contributed several critical essays to British literary journals during this period, and his name was better known in England then than it was in France. Stendhal’s first novel, Armance, appeared in 1827. Five years earlier, he had written a searching study of one of his own love affairs titled Maxims of Love...

(The entire section is 724 words.)