The Charterhouse of Parma

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How do these experiences play into the places and events recounted in the novel?

The Chartreuse of Parma by Stendhal

Discuss the way Stendhal treats femininity and masculinity in Charterhouse, and the virtues and foibles that seem to be associated with each. Stendhal wrote this novel in a breathtaking fifty-two days, a pace reflected in the galloping prose style. Remarking on this, Bernard Knox, in The New York Review of Books, wrote, "From the very beginning the narrative takes the reader by storm with its fervid pace … and this speed lies at the base of another aspect of the narrative, its unpredictability.


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The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal

LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. The Charterhouse of Parma chronicles the exploits of Fabrizio del Dongo, an ardent young aristocrat who joins Napoleon's army just before the Battle of Waterloo. Yet perhaps the novel's most unforgettable characters are the hero's beautiful aunt, the alluring Duchess of Sanseverina, and her lover, Count Mosca, who plot to further Fabrizio's political career at the treacherous court of Parma in a sweeping story that illuminates an entire epoch of European history.

The Charterhouse of Parma

One sees perfection in every detail. The Charterhouse of Parma often contains a whole book in a single page. It is a masterpiece.

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Officer, diplomat, spy, journalist, and intermittent genius, Marie Henri Beyle employed more than aliases in the course of his crowded career. His most famous moniker, however, was Stendhal, which he affixed to his greatest work, The Charterhouse of Parma.


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The author spent a mere seven weeks cranking out this marvel in , setting the fictional equivalent of a land-speed record. To be honest, there are occasional signs of haste, during which he clearly bypassed le mot juste in favor of narrative zing. So what? Stendhal at his sloppiest is still wittier, and wiser about human behavior, than just about any writer you could name.

I can think of no greater praise than that. But Stendhal had an amazing, pre-Freudian grasp of psychology at least the Gallic variant. More than most of his contemporaries, he understood the incessant jostling of love, sex, fear, and ambition, not to mention our endless capacity for self-deception. No wonder his hero, Fabrizio de Dongo, seems to know everything and nothing about himself. Even under fire at the Battle of Waterloo, the young Fabrizio has a tendency to lose himself in Napoleonic reverie:.

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Pain and passion

Richard Howard's exuberant and definitive rendition of Stendhal's stirring tale has brought about the rediscovery of this classic by modern readers. Stendhal narrates a young aristocrat's adventures in Napoleon's army and in the court of Parma, illuminating in the process the whole cloth of European history. As Balzac wrote, "Never before have the hearts of princes, ministers, courtiers, and women been depicted like this Convert currency.

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