From Academic Kids


Marie-Henri Beyle (January 23, 1783March 23, 1842), better known as Stendhal, was a 19th century French writer. He is known for his accurate analysis of his characters' psychology and for the dryness of his writing-style.



Born in Grenoble, France, he had a miserable childhood in stifling provincial France but blossomed in the military and theatrical worlds of the First French Empire. He travelled extensively in Germany and visited Russia (as part of Napoleon's army), but formed a particular attachment to Italy, where he spent much of the remainder of his career, serving as French consul and writing.

Beyle used the pseudonym "Stendhal", supposedly chosen as an anagram of "Shetland" (although Georges Perec may have invented this explanation - references to Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) feature extensively in Perec's unfinished last novel 53 jours). Alternatively, some scholars believe he borrowed his nom de plume from the German city of Stendal as a homage for Johann Joachim Winckelmann.

Contemporary readers did not fully appreciate Stendhal's realistic style during the Romantic period in which he lived; he was not fully appreciated until the beginning of the 20th century. He dedicated his writing to "the Happy Few", referring to those who would one day recognise his own genius. Today, Stendhal's works attract attention for their irony and psychological and historical aspects.

Stendhal was an avid fan of music, particularly the composers Cimarosa, Mozart, and Rossini, the latter of whom he wrote an extensive biography, Vie de Rossini (1824), now more valued for its wide-ranging musical criticism than its historical accuracy.

He died in Paris in 1842 and is interred in the Cimetire de Montmartre.

Stendhal's brief, saucy memoir, Souvenirs d'Egotisme (Memoirs of an Egotist) was published posthumously in 1892.


His other works include short stories, journalism, travel books (among them Rome, Naples et Florence and Promenades dans Rome), a famous collection of essays on Italian painting, and L'amour (On Love), a singular treatise in which the author gives his views on love and records one of his own failed relationships.

See also

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