In honor of the DC snowstorm – it is still coming down! – this passage from On Love, Book 2, Chapter 50, Love in the United States:
In the Winter, which as in Russia is the festive season of the country, young people of both sexes drive about night and day over the snow in sleighs, gaily traveling distances of fifteen or twenty miles without anyone to look after them; and nothing untoward ever occurs.
Unchaperoned and “nothing untoward” happens … does Stendhal here anticipate the courtship culture brought about by the automobile a century later? (It is important to keep in mind both how little Stendhal actually knew about the United States, apart from thinking it even more a Nation of Shopkeepers than England, and how willing he was to imagine anything he didn’t actually know. Still, at least for those of us who are Stendhal’s Happy Few, no less fun for all that.)