David Ellis looks at the literary ones that got away ...
"Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it. "
Marie-Henri Beyle, born 23 January 1783, is better known by his pen name Stendhal. He was a 19th-century French writer known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology. He is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism, as is evident in the novel Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830).
Stendhal often stated that he had a miserable childhood due to the untimely demise of his mother and a turbulent relationship with his father. It is documented that he spent much of his early life living in his native France but later moved to Italy, a country which he loved dearly.
Stendhal, during his adult life, was considered a womaniser who was obsessed with his sexual conquests. His genuine empathy towards women is evident in many of his books. This fusion of, and tension between, clear-headed analysis and romantic feeling is typical of Stendhal's great novels; he therefore could be considered a Romantic realist.
Stendhal suffered miserable physical disabilities in his later years as he continued to produce some of his most famous work. He noted in his journal, that he was taking iodide of potassium and quicksilver to treat his syphilis which caused dire and debilitating side effects. However, modern medicine has shown that his health problems were unfortunately more attributable to his treatment than to his syphilis.
Stendhal died on 23 March 1842, a few hours after collapsing with a seizure on the streets of Paris. He is interred in the Cimetière de Montmartre.
TITLES BY STENDHAL