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Stendhal Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Two novels may not seem much upon which to base an enduring reputation, even if they are as distinguished as The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. Yet even without these two novels, Stendhal would still have a place in literary history. His place is secure not only because of the quality and interest of his other work, including his lesser-known, unfinished, and inferior fiction, but also because of the precision with which the man himself felt the pulse of his time. His acuteness can be perceived in the political sophistication that suffuses his novels and his wry regard for the foibles and fashions of the day. Above all, Stendhal is noteworthy for attaining within himself the freedom to express a spirit tempered by reason, and to employ this reason without denying his emotions.