Archive | Stendhal

Sundays With Stendhal … Revived

‘What are you dreaming of, sir?’ Mathilde asked him.  There was a note of intimacy in her question, and she had come back running and was quite out of breath in her eagerness to be with him.  Julian was tired of self-suppression.  In a moment of pride, he told frankly what he was thinking.

The Red and the Black (C.K. Scott Moncrieff transl.), Book II, Chapter 40.

Long time VC readers might recall my ‘Sundays With Stendhal’ posts.  I’ve decided to try a return to them, though they might be somewhat irregular and I’ll almost certainly use passages that I also posted years ago.  I’ll also add quotations from other writers when the mood takes me, as well.  This isn’t an exercise in scholarship, so I’m not worried about taking quotations out of context, leaving aside the French unless I have a particular interest, using different translations, and similar liberties.  I am passionate about Stendhal – one of the happy few, etc. – having read and re-read The Red and the Black nearly every year since I was fourteen, when (a) I was madly in love with L. and (b) one of my older high school friends handed it to me, from pity, I think.  (He was also passionate about French literature, when not being passionate about his devotion to the Revolution, this being public high school in a college town in the early 1970s.)

Stendhal seems to have fallen out of the curriculum everywhere; even my French law students have never read anything by him and my American students have not so much as heard the name.  I asked a dear friend of mine about this several years back – a serious French intellectual, writer and editor in Paris – and he said, I know you consider yourself devoted [...]

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Lauren Leto Stereotypes Readers/Authors

I like this.  HT Instapundit – I hadn’t heard of Lauren Leto and her blog before, but I found this enjoyable:

Stereotyping People by Their Favorite Author

(by the way – I respect every author on here, kind of)

J.D. Salinger

Kids who don’t fit in (duh).

Stephenie Meyer

People who type like this: OMG. Mah fAvvv <3 <3.

J.K. Rowling

Smart geeks.

Ms. Leto provides many, many examples more.  I’m mildly distressed at how many of the contemporary authors I had not heard of before, but then I don’t read much current fiction.

But there Is A Problem With This List, and the fact that I note it will not surprise regular readers of this blog.  It is missing a certain author, one of Great(est) Importance.  So, dear VC readers, in the spirit of the above – consult the blog for all the rest of the sampled authors, and then tell me how you fill in the Missing Author … drumroll, Stendhal. [...]

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Naval War College International Law Conference and Bleg for French Translation

I’m on radio silence, as I’m at the Naval War College conference on international law, which is where all the cool people are this week.

I was last on radio silence finishing up my short policy manuscript on UN-US relations.  I’m not sure I’d describe it as “done,” but the editors took it away from me, saying that I’d keep fiddling forever.  Which is true, as the following bleg demonstrates.  I’m considering for an epigraph, if there’s room for one in a book so short, a riff on … well, Stendhal.  (So sue me.)

There is a well-known (well, well-known if you’re me) line in The Red and the Black, “Could it be that she is a prude grown tired of her calling?” (This, in the context of advice to Julian on how to court her.)  In the original French, it is (I still can’t figure out how to do the marks on my Mac):  “Ne serait-ce point une prude lasse de son metier?”

Because my little US-UN policy essay, Returning to Earth, is about the appeal to “multilateralism” and “engagement” as mechanisms for US withdrawal from its role as security hegemon and, hence, provider of certain global public goods – what in the book I call “withdrawal into multilateralism” – you can see that the line “lasse de son metier” has appeal for me.  I want to re-work it slightly, and change “prude” to “America.”  My French is good enough for reading Stendhal and a few others with a dictionary, but help me be sure that I’ve handled the cases correctly.  Is this correct French?  Un Amerique?  Une Amerique?  Is “lasse” still the right form?  If not, how would you switch “prude” for “America” but leaving the rest as is except necessary grammatic corrections?:

Ne serait-ce point [...]

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Saturdays with Stendhal 6

‘One never knows what to say in speaking to our great diplomats,’ said Julien.  ‘They have a mania for starting serious discussions.  If one confines oneself to the commonplaces of the newspapers, one is reckoned a fool.  If one allows oneself to say something true and novel, they are astonished, they do not know how to answer, and next morning, at seven o’clock, they send word to one by the First Secretary, that one has been impolite.’

The Red and the Black, Volume 2, Chapter 37, “An Attack of Gout.” [...]

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Saturdays with Stendhal 5

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.) [...]

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Saturdays with Stendhal 4

The Red and the Black, Volume 1, Chapter 26, “The World, Or What the Rich Lack.”

After several months of application kept up at every moment, Julien still had the air of a thinker. His way of moving his eyes and opening his lips did not reveal an implicit faith ready to believe everything and uphold everything, even by martyrdom.  It was with anger that Julien saw himself surpassed in this respect by the most boorish peasants.  They had good reasons for not having the air of thinkers.

Or in the French (corrected, with thanks to Sasha Volokh):

Après plusieurs mois d’application de tous les instants, Julien avait encore l’air de penser. Sa façon de remuer les yeux et de porter la bouche n’annonçait pas la foi implicite et prête à tout croire et à tout soutenir, même par le martyre. C’était avec colère que Julien se voyait primé dans ce genre par les paysans les plus grossiers. Il y avait de bonnes raisons pour qu’ils n’eussent pas l’air penseur.

I feel strangely compelled to add the following confession.  I just finished re-reading The Charterhouse of Parma.  I have always supposed, following everyone else so far as I can tell, that it is a greater work than The Red and the Black.  But it has been a very long time since I read Charterhouse.  And, I’m slightly embarrassed to say, I find upon re-reading that I much prefer The Red and the Black.  Fabrizio seems so much less interesting than Julien, and fond as I am of Clelia, I am much, much more fond of Mathilde and Madame de Renal.  (I have, since I was young, been in love with Mathilde de la Mole, and always will be.) [...]

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Saturdays with Stendhal 3

From The Red and the Black, Volume I, Chapter 34, The Hotel de la Mole (free translation), and yes, I will manage to get it back to Saturdays!:

The abbe Pirard to Julien …  “The Marquis does not like scribblers bloggers, I warn you; it is his one antipathy.  Know Latin, Greek if you can, the history of the Egyptians, of the Persians, and so forth; he will honour you and protect you as a scholar.  But do not go and write a single page in French blog post at Volokh Conspiracy or anywhere else, especially upon grave subjects, that are above your position in society; he would call you a scribbler blogger and take a dislike to you.  What, living in a great nobleman’s mansion, don’t you know the Duc de Castries’s saying about d’Alembert and Rousseau: ‘That sort of fellow wishes to argue blog about everything, and that other wishes to comment extravagantly and betimes rudely on everything at the blog, and neither has a thousand crowns a year?'”

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Saturdays with Stendhal 2

Notional Saturday.  Saturday in my heart.  This, from On Love:

I crave leave to slander France a little more.

Actually, not.  I am great lover of France.  (Recall that the poet Blaise Cendrars, on the outbreak of the First World War, distributed a manifesto proclaiming that all true poets would fight for France.  Cendrars joined the Foreign Legion and faced some of the worst fighting, losing an arm.) (On Love, Chapter 42, Love in France, cont.) [...]

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