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Stendhal's Memoirs of an Egotist

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Caustic and acerbic of just about every one of his acquaintances, Stendhal never pulled any punches. But the bitterest targets of his bluntest commentaries were nations: “in England the divisions between classes are as distinct as they are in India, the country of pariahs,” and “The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbaric people in the world.” About Germans: “… Caustic and acerbic of just about every one of his acquaintances, Stendhal never pulled any punches. But the bitterest targets of his bluntest commentaries were nations: “in England the divisions between classes are as distinct as they are in India, the country of pariahs,” and “The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbaric people in the world.” About Germans: “… apart from their enthusiasm, the Germans are too stupid.” And Italians: “The Italians would have held forth, each of them occupying the floor for twenty minutes and remaining the mortal enemy of his antagonist in the discussion. At the third meeting they would have composed satirical sonnets against one another.” About Russia: “In a half-civilized country like Russia he’d pass as a hero…” The value of Stendhal’s memoirs lies in the man’s sincerity as demonstrated by his plain —often offensive— language. Yet, one has to heed his opinions, for they are laden with deep insights; especially, his opinions about art and literature. His assessment of Walter Scott has been prophetic in a negative way, as has been his recognition of Shakespeare, Diderot, Goldsmith, Voltaire, and Mozart in a positive way. Besides the lighthearted prose he employed, Stendhal managed to inject humor, oblivious to whether his brand of humor was appropriate or perhaps even risqué. His main preoccupation was to be read, to be quite sober and yet entertaining—never boring.


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Caustic and acerbic of just about every one of his acquaintances, Stendhal never pulled any punches. But the bitterest targets of his bluntest commentaries were nations: “in England the divisions between classes are as distinct as they are in India, the country of pariahs,” and “The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbaric people in the world.” About Germans: “… Caustic and acerbic of just about every one of his acquaintances, Stendhal never pulled any punches. But the bitterest targets of his bluntest commentaries were nations: “in England the divisions between classes are as distinct as they are in India, the country of pariahs,” and “The English are, I think, the most obtuse and barbaric people in the world.” About Germans: “… apart from their enthusiasm, the Germans are too stupid.” And Italians: “The Italians would have held forth, each of them occupying the floor for twenty minutes and remaining the mortal enemy of his antagonist in the discussion. At the third meeting they would have composed satirical sonnets against one another.” About Russia: “In a half-civilized country like Russia he’d pass as a hero…” The value of Stendhal’s memoirs lies in the man’s sincerity as demonstrated by his plain —often offensive— language. Yet, one has to heed his opinions, for they are laden with deep insights; especially, his opinions about art and literature. His assessment of Walter Scott has been prophetic in a negative way, as has been his recognition of Shakespeare, Diderot, Goldsmith, Voltaire, and Mozart in a positive way. Besides the lighthearted prose he employed, Stendhal managed to inject humor, oblivious to whether his brand of humor was appropriate or perhaps even risqué. His main preoccupation was to be read, to be quite sober and yet entertaining—never boring.

30 review for Stendhal's Memoirs of an Egotist

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    This is a book by a writer, primarily for other writers. Stendhal is carrying out an interesting experiment, and I'm surprised that it hasn't had more of an impact. Unless you have an unusually positive view of human nature, you'll agree that most autobiographies are dreadful collections of self-serving lies. (No, you said "Tony Blair". I never mentioned him). In general, it's easy to point fingers, and of course some people are worse than others. But even the most careful, consciencious, impartial This is a book by a writer, primarily for other writers. Stendhal is carrying out an interesting experiment, and I'm surprised that it hasn't had more of an impact. Unless you have an unusually positive view of human nature, you'll agree that most autobiographies are dreadful collections of self-serving lies. (No, you said "Tony Blair". I never mentioned him). In general, it's easy to point fingers, and of course some people are worse than others. But even the most careful, consciencious, impartial seeker after truth is likely to end up with a variant on the usual mess. Simone de Beauvoir, who I think is about as honest as it gets, complains bitterly that her memoirs are filled with mauvaise foi. Churchill's History of the Second World War is brilliant, but contains flagrant half-truths and omissions; he wasn't allowed to write about Turing and the code-breakers because it was still top secret, and it was psychologically impossible for him to give the requisite weight to the story of the Eastern front. If de Beauvoir and Churchill can't get it right, what hope for mere mortals? Stendhal was well aware of the problems, and tried to cut the Gordian knot. He wrote down his story very quickly, with minimal or no revision, as if he was writing a series of letters; he also decided from the beginning that it would be published at least ten years after his death, so he wouldn't have to worry about hurting people's feelings. The result is interestingly different from a normal autobiography. It's unavoidably incoherent in places, and often comes across as just rough notes - there are places where the editor says he's left up to three quarters of a page of blank space, presumably intending to fill in the gap but never getting around to it. Often, he talks about people and places without adequate introduction, and I had one finger permanently in the end-notes - Stendhal scholars have spent over 150 years trying to figure out obscure references, and there are still instances where they're stumped. But you really do have the feeling that this is someone who's not just trying to be honest, but actually succeeding a lot of the time. Three things in particular stand out. He spends a great deal of time regretting love affairs that either went wrong or never happened; he is appalled by the dishonesty and mediocrity of nearly all his fellow-writers; and, although he dearly loves his friends and does his best to explain their stirling qualities, he's completely unable to do so. They're just, you know, great guys. Even though the first impression is of a very unfinished work, there are lovely fragments scattered through the text. It's rare to have three pages go by without finding something you immediately want to quote. I think this was my favourite passage, though many others ran it close:Avez-vous jamais vu, lecteur bénévole, un ver à soie qui a mangé assez de feuille de mûrier? La comparaison n'est pas noble, mais elle est si juste! Cette laide bête ne veut plus manger, elle a besoin de grimper et de faire sa prison de soie. Tel est l'animal nommé écrivain. Pour qui a goûté de la profonde occupation d'écrire, lire n'est qu'un plaisir secondaire. Tant de fois je croyais être à 2 heures, je regardais ma pendule: il était 6 heures et demie. Voilà ma excuse pour avoir noirci tant de papier. My translation: Have you ever seen, gentle reader, a silkworm who has eaten enough mulberry leaves? It's not a flattering comparison, but a very fair one! This ugly creature no longer wants to eat, it wants to climb up somewhere and start making its prison of silk. The animal called the writer is similar. For someone who has tasted the profound pleasure of writing, reading is no more than a secondary pleasure. Many times I've believed it was 2 in the afternoon, and then looked at the clock to find it was 6.30. There's my excuse for having blackened so much paper.Well, I had better get out of my cocoon and start making dinner. But I do so wish I could reply to him! If you happen to have a time machine, please deliver this note to M. Beyle in 1833; tell him that his book was by no means as dull as he feared, and is still appreciated in 2010. He seemed concerned about its future success, and I'd like to reassure him that his experiment worked out very well. ___________________________________________ I just can't stop thinking about Stendhal's unusual book! Have to give it another star in recognition of that :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    On the matter of sex. What I got out of this book was exactly one thing. That in some parts of Europe at the time, women and men were equal in this respect: everybody had lovers. It wasn’t something men did to women. This makes scenes that might otherwise be repugnant resonate with eroticism. Perhaps the equality is merely in the minds of men – but Stendhal is a realist and so I doubt that. An expert in the area might demolish my illusions, however….though I’m not sure I want you to, if you are On the matter of sex. What I got out of this book was exactly one thing. That in some parts of Europe at the time, women and men were equal in this respect: everybody had lovers. It wasn’t something men did to women. This makes scenes that might otherwise be repugnant resonate with eroticism. Perhaps the equality is merely in the minds of men – but Stendhal is a realist and so I doubt that. An expert in the area might demolish my illusions, however….though I’m not sure I want you to, if you are reading this. In Chapter 3, two of Stendhal’s friends decide to cheer him up by taking him to see a courtesan. Alexandrine appeared and surpassed all expectations. She was a tall and slim girl of seventeen or eighteen, already mature….she was quiet and gentle but not at all shy, fairly gay and not unseemly in her behaviour. My friends’ eyes goggled at the sight of her. Lussinge offered a glass of champagne, which she refused, and disappeared with her. Mme Petit introduced us to the two other girls who weren’t bad but we told her that she herself was prettier…..Poitevin took her off. After a dreadfully long interval, a very pale Lussinge returned. ---Your turn, Beyle [ie Stendhal:], they cried. You’ve just come home; it’s your privilege. [not at all sure why getting to go second is special:] I found Alexandrine on a bed, a little wan, almost in the costume and in the exact position of Titian’s Duchess of Urbino. ---Let’s just talk for ten minutes, she said in a lively way. I’m a bit tired, let’s chat. My young blood will flare up again soon. She was adorable, I perhaps had never seen anyone prettier. There wasn’t too much licentiousness about her except in the eyes which gradually became suggestively animated and full (you could say) of passion. I failed entirely with her; it was a complete fiasco. So I had to rely on a substitute which she submitted to. Not quite knowing what to do, I wanted to try this manual expedient again, but she refused. She seemed astonished. Considering my situation, I said several quite good things and then went out. Of course, I had to hurry off to Google to look up Titian’s Duchess of Urbino. What was she wearing? Ah… I should have guessed…. That’s what she’s wearing. It turns out that this picture is a matter of great controversy – nothing to do with whether you like her outfit, by the way. Mark Twain said of it: You enter [the Uffizi:] and proceed to that most-visited little gallery that exists in the world --the Tribune-- and there, against the wall, without obstructing rap or leaf, you may look your fill upon the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses -- Titian's Venus. It isn't that she is naked and stretched out on a bed --no, it is the attitude of one of her arms and hand. If I ventured to describe that attitude there would be a fine howl --but there the Venus lies for anybody to gloat over that wants to --and there she has a right to lie, for she is a work of art, and art has its privileges. I saw a young girl stealing furtive glances at her; I saw young men gazing long and absorbedly at her, I saw aged infirm men hang upon her charms with a pathetic interest. How I should like to describe her --just to see what a holy indignation I could stir up in the world...yet the world is willing to let its sons and its daughters and itself look at Titian's beast, but won't stand a description of it in words....There are pictures of nude women which suggest no impure thought -- I am well aware of that. I am not railing at such. What I am trying to emphasize is the fact that Titian's Venus is very far from being one of that sort. Without any question it was painted for a bagnio and it was probably refused because it was a trifle too strong. In truth, it is a trifle too strong for any place but a public art gallery. What Twain is saying here, in Tramp Abroad I think, is that if you wrote this picture in words – it would be obscene rather than erotic. Indeed, it has been referred to as the masturbating Venus…so you see what I mean. Interesting in this context, that Stendhal, whether intuitively or consciously knew that to be the case, and thus refers to Alexandrine in this most sexy way without any sex in his language whatsoever. A mere reference to a painting says it all. I’m completely ignorant of art, but I expect back then educated people reading this book would have understood the reference immediately…indeed, maybe everybody else does! But permit the matter to be more complex. Is it not fair to say that although in this case the exquisitely erotic painting of the Duchess/Venus looking directly as us, her invited lover, hard nipples, touching herself, does the job no words would, to Twain’s chagrin; at the same time, one could readily imagine a tacky picture rendered delicate via choice words. Tit for tat – if you will forgive me putting it this way?

  3. 5 out of 5

    AGamarra

    "Recuerdos de egotismo" es un relato íntimo de las vivencias de Stendhal desde 1821 hasta 1830, es digamos la segunda parte de "La vida de Henry Brulard". Es una autobiografía mezclada de algunos eventos falsos y muchos alterados mínimamente pero es en realidad la vida que tuvo Stendhal durante aquel tiempo. Hay muchas cosas que me gustaron del libro, no estoy seguro pero creo que hay que ser stendhaliano para poder disfrutarlo más, no sé si le pueda gustar a alguien que no conoce a St "Recuerdos de egotismo" es un relato íntimo de las vivencias de Stendhal desde 1821 hasta 1830, es digamos la segunda parte de "La vida de Henry Brulard". Es una autobiografía mezclada de algunos eventos falsos y muchos alterados mínimamente pero es en realidad la vida que tuvo Stendhal durante aquel tiempo. Hay muchas cosas que me gustaron del libro, no estoy seguro pero creo que hay que ser stendhaliano para poder disfrutarlo más, no sé si le pueda gustar a alguien que no conoce a Stendhal o no está interesado en conocer más de él. El relato y sus peripecias al ser tan reales no son necesariamente interesantes, y la manera de contarlo no es precisamente la mejor como en sus grandes obras, en gran parte de seguro porque es (como muchas obras de él) inconclusa, Stendhal no la terminó de escribir. Hay dos cosas importantes que sin embargo me llaman la atención: lo primero es que para mí Stendhal es fuente de conocimientos no sólo de historias ficticias sino de muchas cosas y lo segundo que es una obra que te permite conocer qué tan "romántico" realmente era Stendhal. Sobre lo primero pues Stendhal como dice en una parte del libro ha conocido a grandes hombres, es una persona que digamos se apasiona por las grandes almas de su tiempo, así como describe todas las personalidades que trató en la época así como juzga obras de sus contemporáneos, así pude conocer más sobre: Napoleón, Racine, Shakespeare, Madame de Stael, Benjamin Constant, Merimée, Daru, Walter Scott, Schiller, Monti, Lancival, y muchos otros personajes que gracias a Stendhal trataré de conocer más, muchos literatos que han escrito libros algunos olvidados que a partir de ahora buscaré. Sobre lo segundo, es algo que si bien no me sorprende demasiado sí ya me ha hecho comprender algunas cosas de su obra. Stendhal al parecer fue muy desdichado en el amor y es un gran contraste con aquella idea que algunos teníamos y que algunos expertos decían sobre él, que era una persona fría, cínica y mordaz. Muy cierto su obra puede ser así pero luego de haber leído "Del amor" y sobre todo "Recuerdos de egotismo" nadie puede dudar que era en el fondo (tras la careta, como él mismo dice) un personaje muy sensible y apasionado.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paradoxe

    Πρόκειται για την αυτοπαρατήρηση ως φίλτρο της παρατήρησης του συνόλου ενός απ' τους μεγαλύτερους συμβολιστές ρεαλιστές συγγραφείς. Πραγματικά δε θέλω να γράψω άλλα, θα το χαλάσω. Δεν πρόκειται για λογοτεχνικό έργο, είναι ένα ημερολόγιο λογοτεχνοποιημένο με την στείρα, ισοπεδωτική πένα του Στεντάλ. Είναι σαν το δάκρυ που κυλάει απ' το σοκ στο υπερβολικό ψύχος κι ωστόσο επιτόπου γίνεται συμπαγές, λάμπει σα στολίδι, έχει όμως μια βαθύτερη αξία. Έγραψα κάποτε στη ΛτΒ απ' την πρώτη φορά που το διάβα Πρόκειται για την αυτοπαρατήρηση ως φίλτρο της παρατήρησης του συνόλου ενός απ' τους μεγαλύτερους συμβολιστές ρεαλιστές συγγραφείς. Πραγματικά δε θέλω να γράψω άλλα, θα το χαλάσω. Δεν πρόκειται για λογοτεχνικό έργο, είναι ένα ημερολόγιο λογοτεχνοποιημένο με την στείρα, ισοπεδωτική πένα του Στεντάλ. Είναι σαν το δάκρυ που κυλάει απ' το σοκ στο υπερβολικό ψύχος κι ωστόσο επιτόπου γίνεται συμπαγές, λάμπει σα στολίδι, έχει όμως μια βαθύτερη αξία. Έγραψα κάποτε στη ΛτΒ απ' την πρώτη φορά που το διάβασα, πως ένα απ' τα αγαπημένα μου βιβλία, το Κόκκινο και το μαύρο, είναι υποδεέστερο των Αναμνήσεων Εγωτισμού. Πάντως κρατήστε αυτό, δεν είναι αυτοβιογραφία, γιατί οι αυτοβιογραφίες έχουν δομή και συνέχεια, οι Αναμνήσεις Εγωτισμού στην πραγματικότητα δε διαφέρουν απ' το δεύτερο μέρος του Περί έρωτος όπου σημειώνονται διάφορες σκέψεις και απόψεις του συγγραφέα. Μόνο που εδώ βλέπουμε περισσότερο τον Άνθρωπο, με τις συνήθειες, τους φόβους του, την ιερότητα με την οποία πλησιάζει τους άλλους, έτοιμος να δεχτεί το καλύτερο μέσα σ' αυτούς ακόμα και ως μια ευχάριστη εξαίρεση. Είναι έργο που προσωπικά με καθησυχάζει, νιώθω πως δεν είμαι μόνος μου. Μου αρέσει η επικοινωνία, η καλή επικοινωνία, τη λατρεύω. Ωστόσο επιλέγω την αξιοπρεπή αυτάρκεια παρότι η λύπη με ρίχνει στη μελαγχολία, ίσως και στην κατάθλιψη,, γιατί οι άνθρωποι γύρω δε μπορούν πάντοτε να είναι στον αφρό, ούτε και οι πιο σπουδαίοι. Έχουν ανάγκη στιγμές χαλάρωσης, που για 'μενα προσωπικά πρέπει να κρατούν για πάρτη τους, για το σπίτι τους, όχι να τις μεταφέρουν έξω απ' την ιδιωτική ζωή τους ως ένα κόσμημα μονοσήμαντης διαχυτικότητας, που διαχέεται με πλαστά μέσα που στόχο έχουν να απομακρύνουν απ' τον άνθρωπο δίπλα σου. Κι αυτό που είναι τώρα, πάντα ήταν. Γι' αυτό αυτό το βιβλίο σημαίνει τόσα πολλά. Και γιατί ακόμα κανένας μα κανένας δεν είναι ολικά απορριπτέος, όλοι έχουν κάτι που τους ανήκει, ένα ποιό ανάλογο τους και σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις πράγματι λάμπουν. Είναι ένα τεράστιο βιβλίο χωρίς καμιά φιλοδοξία να αρέσει. Μόνο να κατανοηθεί και καθένας σας που το αγοράζει δίνει μια ακόμη επιβεβαίωση πως κάποια πράγματα έτσι είναι και όχι αλλιώς. Αλλά και πάλι έγραψα πολλά και δεν το ήθελα. Είναι για 'μενα προσωπικά αυτό το βιβλίο διάφορα. Το τι είναι ή θα γίνει για 'σας, αποφασίστε το μόνοι. Η αξία του είναι προσωπική.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    This little book ended much better than it began. That may be only because as I got to know the man better the more I wanted to know. And, unfortunately, this is an unfinished memoir. Stendhal intended to give an account of his life in Paris between 1821 and 1831. There were a few references to the later years, but most of the commentary focused on the very early years of 1821-1824. This edition has a very good introduction by the translator. I learned some background of Stendhal that This little book ended much better than it began. That may be only because as I got to know the man better the more I wanted to know. And, unfortunately, this is an unfinished memoir. Stendhal intended to give an account of his life in Paris between 1821 and 1831. There were a few references to the later years, but most of the commentary focused on the very early years of 1821-1824. This edition has a very good introduction by the translator. I learned some background of Stendhal that was not revealed in the memoir. Stendhal's first cousin was Pierre Daru, one of Napoleon's most trusted administrator's and head of his War Department. Because of this relationship, in 1799, young 17-year old Stendhal was given a position in that department. He was acquainted with Bonaparte and much of French society. Stendhal writes of that French society. By the time of the memoir the Bourbons were back in power, but somehow Stendhal manages not to be on the complete fringe looking in. However, he admits to hating Paris. Ah, but he loves women so, and much of this memoir is about his love life - or lack thereof. I'm impetuous, passionate, unpredictable, excessively devoted in friendship and love until the first signs of coolness. Then, from the madness of a sixteen year old I move, in a twinkling, to the Machiavellianism of a man of fifty and, after a week, there's nothing left but melting ice, a perfect coolness. (This has just happened to me again the last few days 'with Lady' Angelica, May 1832). I have yet to read my first Stendhal novel. Ellis says this memoir is written in a much freer style than his fiction. Stendhal has penciled a note in the margin of the original 'Made' fourteen pages on 2 July from five to seven. I couldn't have worked like this on an imaginative work like The Scarlet and the Black. Looking forward to that one!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ghayeth Ersheidat

    I gotta admit this was a very tedious read for me , and I was boarded out of my mind until I've finished it. what got me through this memoir was what Stendhal said in this quote : "so I hope that , if boredom doesn't stop people reading this book, they won't find any sense of grievance against men." the period that Stendhal lived in was pretty tough I presume, and egotism was one way of making it through out among crowds and living life as a drifter, let alone having many woman as mis I gotta admit this was a very tedious read for me , and I was boarded out of my mind until I've finished it. what got me through this memoir was what Stendhal said in this quote : "so I hope that , if boredom doesn't stop people reading this book, they won't find any sense of grievance against men." the period that Stendhal lived in was pretty tough I presume, and egotism was one way of making it through out among crowds and living life as a drifter, let alone having many woman as mistresses was a young man's habit. I don't think I would read this in any time again ... SO BOARD 😵

  7. 5 out of 5

    Siham

    Mon Dieu, Comme ceci est mal écrit ! Stendhal – Souvenirs d’égotisme Ennuyeux, superficiel, décevant ! Ça ressemble plutôt aux bavardages de nos chères grandes mères , Ou bien à un long registre où l'auteur dressait les noms et les portraits de tous ses gens de société qu’il fréquentait pour échapper a ses chagrins d’amour qui l’accablaient dans ces moments de solitude, mais sans cesser de critiquer leurs pensées , et leurs comportements . Tout au cours de la lecture le grand absent était Ste Mon Dieu, Comme ceci est mal écrit ! Stendhal – Souvenirs d’égotisme Ennuyeux, superficiel, décevant ! Ça ressemble plutôt aux bavardages de nos chères grandes mères , Ou bien à un long registre où l'auteur dressait les noms et les portraits de tous ses gens de société qu’il fréquentait pour échapper a ses chagrins d’amour qui l’accablaient dans ces moments de solitude, mais sans cesser de critiquer leurs pensées , et leurs comportements . Tout au cours de la lecture le grand absent était Stendhal ! A la fin de chaque page je me demandait : A quoi tout cela m’intéresserait ? J’ai pris l’habitude de ne pas abandonner des lectures entamées, sinon je me serai débarrassée de ce livre qui coule de l'ennui depuis les 3 premiers chapitres. Stendhal écrivait ses souvenirs (de 1821 à 1832) avec une simplicité étonnante, il a prétendu y subir son ego à un examen minutieux de conscience , mais à l’intérieur , on ne trouve que du vide :la finesse des analyses psychologique, La profondeur des expressions qui ont étalé le génie littéraire de Stendhal dans le Rouge et le Noir , ce charme dans l’écriture qui rend des détails non intéressants excitants et importants à nos yeux , tout cela était étrangement absent dans la présente œuvre.. Pourtant, il ne s’agit là que d’un brouillon d’un projet qu’il n’avait pas accomplit , ses souvenirs restaient cachées et n’étaient publiées que 50 ans environ après la mort de son auteur . Je ne pense pas que Stendhal avait la vrai intention de publier ses présentes mémoires sans y changer radicalement dans la forme et dans le contenu. Lui-même il signalait mainte fois sa non satisfaction de ce que ça plume traçait sur le papier. Il serait donc absurde de juger le talent d’un auteur à partir du brouillon d’un projet inaccompli. Voilà la seule justification qui soulage ma grande déception ! A mon simple avis , ce recueil de mémoires inachevé, plutôt à peine commencé , n’apprendra pas grande chose au lecteur à propos du caractère et de l’esprit de son auteur .. Julien, l’héro de son chef d’œuvre " le Rouge et le Noir " , qui n’est qu’un Stendhal caché dans la tenue de son héro romanesque t’apprendra beaucoup mieux à propos de la pensée de son auteur et de certains détails de sa vie Un seul extrait avait réussi à exciter ma réflexion qui restait en repos complet tout au long de la lecture : Mes jugements varient comme mon humeur , mes jugements ne sont que des apperçus Stendhal - Souvenir d'égotisme Cette idée qui était développée plus tard par Nietzsche, ce philosophe qui était largement influencé par la pensée de Stendhal dans le rouge et le noir .

  8. 4 out of 5

    Londi

    Rereading Stendhal after ten years and yep, he nails it. Quite a unique, fragmentary autobiography.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Yani

    Aviso: esta es una reseña totalmente subjetiva. Leí tanto de la vida de Stendhal en tan poco tiempo que ya confundí y olvidé fechas, nombres, hechos... Este libro me resultó mucho más ameno que La vida de Henry Brulard , pero hubiera preferido tener la posibilidad de elegir cuál leer y cuál no. Y es una lástima que ninguno de los dos me haya gustado lo suficiente. Cuando supere mi saturación de Stendhal, voy a leer Rojo y negro . Al menos, cuando se trata de ficción no me quejo.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vittorio Ducoli

    Frammenti di un mondo vacuo che ritorna Stendhal, scrittore caotico e disordinato, lasciò molte opere incompiute, tra le quali spicca sicuramente il Lucien Leuwen, uno dei suoi indubbi capolavori letterari. Fra queste vi sono anche i Ricordi di egotismo, frammento di un’opera di memorie cui lo scrittore lavorò per poche settimane all’inizio dell’estate del 1832, quando si trovava, in qualità di console, a Civitavecchia. Nelle intenzioni dell’autore i Ricordi avrebbero dovuto coprire quasi un decennio della vita di Stendhal, Frammenti di un mondo vacuo che ritorna Stendhal, scrittore caotico e disordinato, lasciò molte opere incompiute, tra le quali spicca sicuramente il Lucien Leuwen, uno dei suoi indubbi capolavori letterari. Fra queste vi sono anche i Ricordi di egotismo, frammento di un’opera di memorie cui lo scrittore lavorò per poche settimane all’inizio dell’estate del 1832, quando si trovava, in qualità di console, a Civitavecchia. Nelle intenzioni dell’autore i Ricordi avrebbero dovuto coprire quasi un decennio della vita di Stendhal, il periodo che va dal giugno del 1821 - quando lascia Milano per non cadere nelle grinfie della polizia austriaca che lo sospettava di appoggiare i carbonari, rientrando a Parigi - al novembre 1830 – allorché parte per Trieste essendovi stato nominato console dal nuovo regime orleanista. Come andò è noto: Metternich non espresse il gradimento per il console liberale e Stendhal fu inviato nella noiosa Civitavecchia come console presso lo stato pontificio. Proprio per sfuggire alla noia che prova nella sonnacchiosa città di estrema provincia Stendhal, che ha da poco dato alle stampe Il rosso e il nero, inizia a scrivere le memorie della sua vita durante la restaurazione, durante il regno degli odiati Borboni, che rappresentava per Stendhal la negazione di tutto ciò in cui credeva, il trionfo – ancor prima che della reazione – della stupidità e della vacuità. Come detto, i Ricordi d’egotismo sono poco più di un frammento, in quanto le poche settimane in cui Stendhal ci lavorò gli permisero di descrivere di fatto solo il primo anno della sua vita parigina, e sono un frammento anche dal punto di vista stilistico, in quanto il manoscritto non fu mai rivisto dall’autore (fu pubblicato per la prima volta solo nel 1892) e si presenta quindi abbastanza disomogeneo e a volte sconnesso, colmo di divagazioni, di spunti che probabilmente Stendhal intendeva sviluppare in seguito, di appunti e note dell’autore in alcuni casi di difficile interpretazione senza le (per la verità stringate) note a margine del curatore di questa elegante, vecchia edizione SE. Pur con questi limiti, i Ricordi di egotismo rappresentano un testo molto importante per comprendere da un lato la personalità di Stendhal, il suo pensiero politico e i tratti della sua psicologia, dall’altro lo spirito di un mondo talmente antistorico che sarebbe presto stato spazzato via dalla logica ferrea della realtà, ed infine per conoscere alcuni dei personaggi che in tale mondo si trovavano a vivere, molti dei quali essendosi riciclati per far dimenticare il loro passato napoleonico quando non rivoluzionario. Stendhal riesce quindi, in queste pagine sia pur frammentarie, nell’intento – dichiarato nel primo capitolo – di ...far dimenticare al lettore gli eterni “Io” che qui troverà scritti, presentandoci una galleria di personaggi colorita e a tratti picaresca, riuscendo attraverso questi a descriverci la Francia smarrita e vacua del dopo-Napoleone. Tutto è ovviamente filtrato dallo sguardo dell’autore, dalla sua capacità analitica e critica, che si esercita anche verso sé stesso, soprattutto nei primi capitoli, che ci parlano della sua disperazione per aver dovuto lasciare Milano e Metilde, la donna tanto amata che non gli concesse mai più di un’intima amicizia. Stendhal in quei primi mesi parigini vive di dolore e di noia, trova Parigi peggio che brutta, insultante per il mio dolore ed accarezza l’idea del suicidio, oltre a quella di approfittare del suo dolore per uccidere Luigi XVIII. Toccante, a mio avviso, per il candore con cui l’autore si confessa, è l’episodio raccontato nel terzo capitolo. Tre suoi amici di allora, vedendolo malinconico, organizzano una serata con alcune prostitute: Stendhal si apparta con Alexandrine, una ragazza molto bella che gli piace, ma non riesce a combinare nulla, perché il pensiero di Metilde si impossessa di lui. Gli amici naturalmente lo prendono in giro e per anni lo soprannomineranno babilano. Tra i personaggi che Stendhal ci presenta ricordando il primo periodo del suo ritorno a Parigi un rilievo particolare assume La Fayette, che frequentava – al pari del nostro – il salotto della Signora De Tracy, moglie del filosofo illuminista. Stendhal dice di venerarlo per il suo coraggio e per il suo passato, ma non gli risparmia gli strali acuminati della sua pungente ironia, descrivendolo mentre ultrassessantenne, nel 1821, viveva alla giornata, tra pensieri scarsi… non si occupava d’altro che di strofinarsi da dietro alle sottane di qualche bella ragazza (vulgo tastarle il culo). Le descrizioni del salotto De Tracy e degli altri luoghi in cui si ritrova una società varia ma in generale vuota di valori, intellettualmente e moralmente corrotta, sono tra le pagine più intense e divertenti dell’opera, e rappresentano tra l’altro un topos letterario che diverrà in qualche modo centrale nella letteratura francese del XIX e dell’inizio del XX secolo. L’emarginato Stendhal, che in quell’epoca sopravvive con pochi soldi, guardato con sospetto tanto dalle autorità quanto dai salotti per il suo radicalismo politico, si vendica così a posteriori delle grettezze e degli opportunismi che lo circondavano. Annoiato dalla società Parigina, pochi mesi dopo il suo arrivo Stendhal compie un viaggio in Inghilterra, sulle tracce dell’amatissimo Shakespeare. Se da un lato sarà soddisfatto dall’aver avuto la possibilità di vedere alcune opere del bardo interpretate dal grande Kean, dall’altro non manca di farci notare come nell’Inghilterra della rivoluzione industriale, dove la borghesia ormai domina incontrastata, accumulare denaro è ormai la sola preoccupazione delle classi dominanti, che vedono la cultura e l’arte come una inutile perdita di tempo, mentre gli operai inglesi, con la loro giornata lavorativa di 18 ore, sono molto più poveri dei poveri francesi od italiani, che almeno hanno più tempo libero. Durante questo viaggio inglese, quasi a dimostrarci un equilibrio in via di recupero rispetto al dolore dovuto alla separazione da Metilde, Stendhal ci racconta di un altro incontro con una prostituta, durante il quale tutto va bene. Stendhal dedica anche alcune pagine a Giuditta Pasta, la celebre cantante che riuniva nel suo salotto parigino i rifugiati milanesi, che per Stendhal fu una carissima amica e che rappresentava per lui il legame con Milano. Anche in queste pagine l’autore prende lo spunto per parlarci dei suoi gusti in ambito artistico, specialmente quelli musicali: venera Cimarosa e Mozart, mentre definisce fanfaronate le opere rossiniane. Molti altri sono i personaggi e le situazioni che questo breve volumetto ci presenta, ma la sua accennata frammentarietà, accentuata dalla tendenza di Stendhal a divagare continuamente per analogia o per associazione, rende difficile seguire un filo logico anche di rendiconto, ragion per cui lascio al lettore inoltrarsi nei meandri della narrazione stendhaliana. Basti dire che a mio avviso i Racconti di egostismo rappresentano probabilmente il primo tentativo della letteratura romantica dell’800 di affrontare un tema – quello del recupero della memoria soggettiva che si fa anche affresco sociale – che quasi un secolo dopo sarebbe stato portato per così dire a compimento da Marcel Proust, non a caso francese e non a caso figlio di Stendhal e di Balzac. Stendhal probabilmente concepisce i Racconti di egotismo insieme come un esorcismo ed una vendetta rispetto al periodo più difficile della sua vita, quando si trovò solo e sbandato sia in senso personale sia in senso sociale. A differenza di quanto avviene in genere nei suoi romanzi, non racconta in media res, ma subito dopo che il mondo da lui descritto si è dissolto con la rivoluzione di luglio. Ciò gli permette probabilmente di apparire un buon profeta rispetto al destino di quel mondo, alla sua vacuità e vanità, che egli riassume ad un certo punto magistralmente così: l’unica loro preoccupazione era che i loro capelli, aggiustati in modo da formare un rotolo sulla fronte, non s’appiattissero. Oggi, che viviamo in un clima culturale e politico per molti versi simile a quello della restaurazione, nel quale senza alcun Congresso di Vienna ci viene imposto di tornare a modelli sociali ed economici prebellici, quanta gente che pensa solo a non permettere che i propri capelli si appiattiscano ci circonda?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Falk

    Fragmentary, but Stendhal is full of life, and his sharp observations makes it fascinating reading. Throughout the book, Stendahl's descriptions of the different people he associates with are acute and merciless; he doesn’t spare even the people he calls his friends - somehow it would seem he rather meant that he was able to bear with them temporarily.. The entire atmosphere of 1820’s Paris appears bleak and claustrophobic in Stendhal's anecdotes, and the social etiquette stifling to a degree th Fragmentary, but Stendhal is full of life, and his sharp observations makes it fascinating reading. Throughout the book, Stendahl's descriptions of the different people he associates with are acute and merciless; he doesn’t spare even the people he calls his friends - somehow it would seem he rather meant that he was able to bear with them temporarily.. The entire atmosphere of 1820’s Paris appears bleak and claustrophobic in Stendhal's anecdotes, and the social etiquette stifling to a degree that made me think it that it would possibly have made people ache for a bloodbath out of sheer frustration. Yes, that bad. "Since it is much more of a fateful mistake for a young man to drop some unseemly remark than it is to his advantage to say something clever, posterity, probably less inane, will have no idea of how insipid polite society was." Stendhal himself doesn’t appear as entirely likable either, at first droning on about his heartache, or about the mistresses he could have had if he only hadn’t been so distracted by said heartache, or rather: distracted by trying to conceal said heartache so he wouldn’t be ridiculed – or (what he considers far worse): so his lost love, the incomparable Métilde, wouldn’t be ridiculed. Or about missed friendships, or about the salons he could have joined if only he hadn't been so distrait.. Well, the title Souvenirs d'Égotisme doesn’t exactly suggest he intended to spare anyone – much less himself. - As you keep turning the pages, it’s exactly his critical eye, combined with his wry wit, that makes him more and more likable: "On arriving in a town I always ask: 1. Which are the 12 prettiest women; 2. Which are the 12 richest men; 3. Which is the man who could get me hanged." - It becomes clear to the reader how, under certain noxious circumstances, how hard it is to be even remotely likeable. There’s an amusing anecdote where he’s visiting whores in a remote district of London. Half expecting to be murdered by their pimps, Stendhal and a friend sets out for Westminster Road. It's a three-storey house, and Stendhal comments that "In all my life I have never seen anything so small!", and also that if it hadn’t been for the boredom of after-dinner London and “the stimulus of possible danger” he wouldn’t have gone at all. The next day, upon not having been murdered, but rather having had a good time (or so it would seem), they send for an excellent lunch to treat both themselves and the young girls. And after going to see a play (Shakespeare, most likely) they return in the evening with champagne. This is one of the few times where Stendhal behaves with a degree of exuberance, but it may contain a hint of what it did to him to be able to forget, if only for a very brief time, his great love Métilde, (who he’d left in Milan, the relationship still unconsummated after years of courtship), along with "polite society" almost everywhere he went.. "I am animated, passionate, wild, and sincere to excess in friendship and in love, until the first cooling off. Then, from the wildness of a sixteen year old I pass, in the twinkling of an eye, to the machiavellianism of a fifty year old and, after a week, there’s nothing left but melting ice, a perfect chilliness." Stendhal was a complex man in an era of extremes; of corruption, vain ambition, marriage for money (even the choice of a mistress or a lover was calculated by considering the advantages it could bring, or at least in most cases had an undertone of ambition), and, for anyone not entirely deprived of wit (as Stendhal would put it), an existence replete with boredom... "...if I had been more astute, I’d become disgusted to the point of nausea with women, and thus with music and painting like my two contemporaries. M.M. de la [Ro]sière and [Per]ochin. They are dessicated, disgusted with the world, philosophers. Instead of that, in everything concerning women, I have the good fortune to be as naive as at the age of twenty-five. – This is the reason why I’ll never blow out my brains in disgust at everything, out of boredom with life." Stendhal had made sure this memoir wouldn’t be published until long after his death, so he gives himself a free reign in commenting on just about everything and everyone. For firsthand observations of early 19th century Paris (and France and Europe in general), Stendhal is a great and intriguing source. There’s really nothing else (that I know of) that quite compares to this when it comes to wry social commentary. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lila

    This is a nicely edited edition. The work is a rambling stream of consciousness written in 1832 by the novelist to see how much he could turn out if he just kept writing. It's gossipy and speaks of trying to get over his love, with observations on Milan, Paris, and England

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noam

    (3.5/5)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Диана

    Like, seriously, why did I even try? The writing is good - light and unpretentious, sincere and witty - the content however is unbearable. After 10 pages (or maybe 20-30, because I was stuck on the beach with no other book but this) I got mooore than enough of style and there was totally no need to continue with the read. I started drawing circles in the sand, a much better and deeper occupation. I honestly wonder how it is even possible to be interested mostly in love affairs, gossip Like, seriously, why did I even try? The writing is good - light and unpretentious, sincere and witty - the content however is unbearable. After 10 pages (or maybe 20-30, because I was stuck on the beach with no other book but this) I got mooore than enough of style and there was totally no need to continue with the read. I started drawing circles in the sand, a much better and deeper occupation. I honestly wonder how it is even possible to be interested mostly in love affairs, gossip, and the occasional description of food? My IQ personally starts screaming for mercy after no more than a few seconds of such talk. I guess what is even more troubling is that the sketch is autobiographical. Makes me wonder how did the author even manage.. Anyway, so much with French realism for me. I was quick to grab a volume of science fiction instead.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erma Odrach

    This is an autobiographical book written in 1832, dealing with Stendhal's life on daily basis. Most of it takes place in Paris with a trip to London. His impressions of society and the art world of the times are highlighted and in very colorful ways. I especially liked his portraits of some of his celebrity friends in Paris. And there are some very candid moments too such as when, after visiting a brothel, he admits he "...failed entirely with her; it was a complete fiasco..." I've read This is an autobiographical book written in 1832, dealing with Stendhal's life on daily basis. Most of it takes place in Paris with a trip to London. His impressions of society and the art world of the times are highlighted and in very colorful ways. I especially liked his portraits of some of his celebrity friends in Paris. And there are some very candid moments too such as when, after visiting a brothel, he admits he "...failed entirely with her; it was a complete fiasco..." I've read the The Red and the Black and this book of memoirs further adds to his distinct literary voice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    This is a minor work by Stendhal, a memoir of a few incidents, dashed off in a few weeks, with not so many hilarious, devastating lines, but still some beautiful self-laceration and exposure of what is weak, petty, desperate and boring in us.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cooper Renner

    A lesser work than Life of Henry Brulard, but still interesting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wojciech

    B-sides of Mister Beyle. Im happy reading it now (35 yo). Pity that foreword of Doris Lessing is not in my reach.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sigrun Hodne

    not memorable like his great works

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ann M

    Finding this kind of dull.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    Stendhal is a delightful prick in this. Great fun if you like Stendhal, probably not meaty enough to warrant a read if you don't.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Korter en ook wel wat vermakelijker dan Het leven van Henry Brulard. Maar toch vooral van hetzelfde laken een pak. Zijn romans zijn leuker om te lezen.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erik Raschke

    I love Stendahl, but this is a good example of how a Brett Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney will weather time. I didn't get half the references and I didn't care.

  24. 4 out of 5

    V.E. Ulett

  25. 4 out of 5

    René Llatas Trejo

  26. 5 out of 5

    Людмил Люцканов

  27. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Cronn

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kevin S

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amar Kamat

  30. 4 out of 5

    Javier

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