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Stendhal was a 19th-century French writer best known for the novels The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism.
See the fact file below for more information on the Stendhal or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Stendhal worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Birth and Childhood
- Stendhal was born Marie-Henri Beyle on January 23, 1783 in Grenoble, Isere District in France.
- His father, Chérubin Beyle, worked as a lawyer, while his mother passed away when he was only 7 years old. This loss, which saddened him, increased his sense of solitude and his resentment toward his father.
- Although throughout his life he tended to stress the dreary and oppressive atmosphere of his home after his mother’s death, there is no reason to believe that he was deprived of affection.
- As a student, he grew interested in literature and mathematics. In 1799 he left for Paris, ostensibly to prepare for the entrance examination to the École Polytechnique, but in reality to escape from Grenoble and from paternal rule.
Stendhal Joins the Force
- When he turned 16, Stendhal moved to Paris in hopes of achieving a career in writing. However, because of his connections with the First Consul through a relative named Pierre Daru, Stendhal entered the French Army where he served as a second lieutenant for over a year and was stationed in Italy.
- This led him to discover Piedmont, Lombardy, and the delights of Milan. He fell in love with Italy’s culture and landscape that was to play a psychologically and thematically determining role in his life and works.
- In 1802, 19-year-old Henri Beyle was back in Paris, ready to work on a number of literary projects, none of which he completed. He dreamed of becoming a modern Molière and enrolled in drama classes, and worked at ridding himself of his provincial accent.
- The year 1806 proved to be a turning point for Beyle as Count Daru, having been appointed intendant-general of Napoleon’s army, had his young protégé sent as an adjunct military commissary to the German city of Brunswick.
- The appointment in the French army allowed Beyle to discover parts of Germany and Austria and gave him a direct experience of the Napoleonic regime and of Europe at war.
- He watched Moscow go up in flames, took part in the French forces’ retreat from Russia, and helped organize the military defense of the province of Dauphiné back in France. In 1814, when the French empire fell, he decided to settle in Italy.
- From the moment he resided in Milan, his literary vocation became irreversible. He became friends with Milanese liberals, discovered the Edinburgh Review, studied music and the visual arts, and published his first books: Lives of Haydn, Mozart and Metastasio in 1814 and History of Painting in Italy in 1817.
- His travel book Rome, Naples et Florence en 1817 also appeared (a later version was published in 1826), and this was the first time he used the pseudonym ‘Stendhal’.
- Stendhal’s stay in Milan ended in deep emotional disappointment: Métilde Dembowski, the woman whose memory was to haunt him for the rest of his life, rejected him as a lover. His political friendships had meanwhile compromised him in the eyes of the Austrian occupying authorities, which finally led him to leave Milan in 1821.
Writing in Paris
- Back in Paris, Stendhal’s social and intellectual life flourished as he made a name for himself in the salons as a conversationalist and polemicist. His wit and unconventional views were much appreciated, and he had notable friendships and love affairs.
- In 1822 he published De l’amour (‘On Love’), which claims to study the operations of love dispassionately and objectively, but which can be read as a hidden confession of Stendhal’s emotional experiences and longings.
- His Racine et Shakespeare (1823, 1825) was one of the first Romantic manifestos to appear in France. In it, Stendhal developed the central idea that each historical period has been “romantic” in its own time, that Romanticism is a vital aspect of every cultural period.
- Stendhal’s literary production during this period was quite varied. In addition to his regular contributions to English journals, he published Life of Rossini (1823), his first novel, Armance (1827), and the travel book Promenades dans Rome (1829). During this period he also wrote one of his two masterpieces, the novel Le Rouge et le noir, which appeared in 1830.
Stendhal the Statesman
- The year 1830, during which the July Revolution brought the constitutional monarch Louis-Philippe to the throne in France, marked a new turning point in Stendhal’s life.
- He was appointed French consul in the port of Civitavecchia, a small town where he felt bored and isolated. Stendhal was occupied by endless administrative chores and found it difficult to write continuously.
- He sought distractions in nearby Rome, absenting himself frequently from his official duties. Lonely, aware of age and of failing health, he felt increasingly drawn to autobiography and began writing Memoirs of an Egotist (1892) and The Life of Henry Brulard (1890), as well as a new and largely autobiographical novel entitled Lucien Leuwen (1894).
- Although they were published posthumously, all these works remained uncompleted. They are now considered among Stendhal’s finest writings.
- During his consulate, Stendhal discovered in Rome unpublished accounts of crimes of passion and grim executions set in the Renaissance, which became the inspiration for stories he later published under the title of Chroniques italiennes (‘Italian Chronicles’).
- But it was only in Paris, where he took up residence again during a prolonged leave from 1836 to 1839, that Stendhal could undertake new major literary work.
- He composed Mémoires d’un touriste, his second masterpiece, the novel La Chartreuse de Parme (‘The Charterhouse of Parma’, 1839), and began work on a new novel, Lamiel (1889), which he did not live long enough to complete.
- He died in March 23, 1842, after suffering a stroke while again on leave in Paris.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Stendhal across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Stendhal worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Stendhal who was a 19th-century French writer best known for the novels The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Learn Français
- Judge by the Cover
- On Love
- Stendhal Says
- Stendhal’s Steps
- Stealth Mode
- Writing in Secret
- Stendhal Syndrome
- Made-Up Manias
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Link will appear as Stendhal Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, June 17, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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