Stendhal quotes

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Stendhal

Birthdate: 23. January 1783
Date of death: 23. March 1842
Other names: Henri Stendhal, Henri Marie Beyle

Marie-Henri Beyle , better known by his pen name Stendhal , was a 19th-century French writer. Best known for the novels Le Rouge et le Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme , he is highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters' psychology and considered one of the early and foremost practitioners of realism.

Works

„Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us.“

—  Stendhal

Journal entry (10 December 1801)
Context: Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us. To know men thoroughly, to judge events sanely, is, therefore, a great step towards happiness.

„At a distance, we cannot conceive of the authority of a despot who knows all his subjects on sight.“

—  Stendhal, book The Charterhouse of Parma

De loin nous ne nous faisons pas d'idée de ce que c'est que l'autorité d'un despote qui connaît de vue tous ses sujets.
Source: La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma) (1839), Ch. 16

„I no longer find such pleasure in that preeminently good society, of which I was once so fond. It seems to me that beneath a cloak of clever talk it proscribes all energy, all originality.“

—  Stendhal, book Armance

Source: Armance (1827), Ch. 10
Context: I no longer find such pleasure in that preeminently good society, of which I was once so fond. It seems to me that beneath a cloak of clever talk it proscribes all energy, all originality. If you are not a copy, people accuse you of being ill-mannered. And besides, good society usurps its privileges. It had in the past the privilege of judging what was proper, but now that it supposes itself to be attacked, it condemns not what is irredemably coarse and disagreeable, but what it thinks harmful to its interest.

„This religion takes away the courage of thinking of unusual things and prohibits self-examination above all as the most egregious of sins; it is a step towards protestantism.“

—  Stendhal, book The Charterhouse of Parma

Cette religion ôte le courage de penser aux choses inaccoutumées, et défend surtout lexamen personnel, comme le plus énorme des péchés; c'est un pas vers le protestantisme.
Source: La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma) (1839), Ch. 12

„The pleasures and the cares of the luckiest ambition, even of limitless power, are nothing next to the intimate happiness that tenderness and love give.“

—  Stendhal, book The Charterhouse of Parma

Source: La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma) (1839), Ch. 7
Context: The pleasures and the cares of the luckiest ambition, even of limitless power, are nothing next to the intimate happiness that tenderness and love give. I am a man before being a prince, and when I have the good fortune to be in love my mistress addresses a man and not a prince.

„Prudery is a kind of avarice, the worst of all.“

—  Stendhal

Fragments
De L'Amour (On Love) (1822)

„The dinner was indifferent and the conversation irritating. "It's like the table of contents of a dull book," thought Julien. "All the greatest subjects of human thought are proudly displayed in it. Listen to it for three minutes, and you ask yourself which is more striking, the emphasis of the speaker or his shocking ignorance."“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

Le dîner fut médiocre et la conversation impatientante C'est la table d'un mauvais livre, pensait Julien. Tous les plus grands sujets des pensées des hommes y sont fièrement abordés. Ecoute-t-on trois minutes, on se demande ce qui l'emporte de l'emphase du parleur ou de son abominable ignorance.
Vol. II, ch. XXVII
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„Why does he not know how to select servants? The ordinary procedure of the nineteenth century is that when a powerful and noble personage encounters a man of feeling, he kills, exiles, imprisons or so humiliates him that the other, like a fool, dies of grief.“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

Que ne sait-il choisir ses gens? La marche ordinaire du XIXe siècle est que, quand un être puissant et noble rencontre un homme de cœur, il le tue, l'exile, l'emprisonne ou l'humilie tellement, que l'autre a la sottise d'en mourir de douleur.
Vol. I, ch. XXIII
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„The only excuse for God is that He does not exist.“

—  Stendhal

As quoted in "A Sentimental Education" by James Huneker, Scribner's Magazine, Vol. 43 (1908), p. 230, also quoted in Albert Camus's The Rebel and Nietzsche's Ecce Homo.

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„A strange effect of marriage, such as the nineteenth century has made it! The boredom of married life inevitably destroys love, when love has preceded marriage. And yet, as a philosopher has observed, it speedily brings about, among people who are rich enough not to have to work, an intense boredom with all quiet forms of enjoyment. And it is only dried up hearts, among women, that it does not predispose to love.“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

Étrange effet du mariage, tel que l'a fait le XIXe siècle! L'ennui de la vie matrimoniale fait périr l'amour sûrement, quand l'amour a précédé le mariage. Et cependant, dirait un philosophe, il amène bientôt chez les gens assez riches pour ne pas travailler, l'ennui profond de toutes les jouissances tranquilles. Et ce n'est que les âmes sèches parmi les femmes qu'il ne prédispose pas à l'amour.
Vol. I, ch. XXIII
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„What is really beautiful must always be true.“

—  Stendhal, book Armance

Ce qui est fort beau est nécessairement toujours vrai.
Source: Armance (1827), Ch. 6

„This is the curse of our age, even the strangest aberrations are no cure for boredom.“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

Tel est le malheur de notre siècle, les plus étranges égarements même ne guérissent pas de l'ennui.
Vol. II, ch. XVII
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„Jean Jacques Rousseau," he answered, "is nothing but a fool in my eyes when he takes it upon himself to criticise society; he did not understand it, and approached it with the heart of an upstart flunkey…. For all his preaching a Republic and the overthrow of monarchical titles, the upstart is mad with joy if a Duke alters the course of his after-dinner stroll to accompany one of his friends.“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

J.-J. Rousseau, répondit-il, n'est à mes yeux qu'un sot, lorsqu'il s'avise de juger le grand monde; il ne le comprenait pas, et y portait le cœur d'un laquais parvenu... Tout en prêchant la république et le renversement des dignités monarchiques, ce parvenu est ivre de bonheur, si un duc change la direction de sa promenade après dîner, pour accompagner un de ses amis.
Vol. II, ch. VIII
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„A novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.“

—  Stendhal, book The Red and the Black

Un roman est un miroir qui se promène sur une grande route. Tantôt il reflète à vos yeux l’azur des cieux, tantôt la fange des bourbiers de la route. Et l’homme qui porte le miroir dans sa hotte sera par vous accusé‚ d’être immoral ! Son miroir montre la fange, et vous accusez le miroir! Accusez bien plutôt le grand chemin où est le bourbier, et plus encore l’inspecteur des routes qui laisse l’eau croupir et le bourbier se former.
Vol. II, ch. XIX
Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) (1830)

„Why not make an end of it all?" he asked himself. "Why this obstinate resistance to the fate that is crushing me? It is all very well my forming what are apparently the most reasonable forms of conduct, my life is a succession of griefs and bitter feelings. This month is no better than the last; this year is no better than last year. Why this obstinate determination to go on living? Can I be wanting in firmness? What is death?" he asked himself, opening his case of pistols and examining them. "A very small matter, when all is said; only a fool would be concerned about it.“

—  Stendhal, book Armance

Pourquoi ne pas en finir? se dit-il enfin; pourquoi cette obstination à lutter contre le destin qui m'accable? J'ai beau faire les plans de conduite les plus raisonnables en apparence, ma vie n'est qu'une suite de malheurs et de sensations amères. Ce mois-ci ne vaut pas mieux que le mois passé; cette année-ci ne vaut pas mieux que l'autre année; d'où vient cette obstination à vivre? Manquerais-je de fermeté? Qu'est-ce que la mort? se dit-il en ouvrant la caisse de ses pistolets et les considérant. Bien peu de chose en vérité; il faut être fou pour s'en passer.
Source: Armance (1827), Ch. 2

„The taste for freedom, the fashion and cult of happiness of the majority that the nineteenth century is infatuated with, was only a heresy in his eyes that would pass like others.“

—  Stendhal, book The Charterhouse of Parma

Le goût de la liberté, la mode et le culte du bonheur du plus grand nombre, dont le XIXe siècle s'est entiché, n'étaient à ses yeux qu'une hérésie qui passera comme les autres.
Source: La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma) (1839), Ch. 7

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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