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Love (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 30, 1975

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Henri Marie Beyle, known through his writing as Stendhal, was born in Grenoble in 1783 and educated there at the École Centrale. A cousin offered him a post in the Ministry of War, and from 1800 he followed Napoleon’s campaigns in Italy, Germany, Russia and Austria. In between wars, he spent his time in Paris drawing rooms and theatres.

After the fall of Napoleon, he retired to Italy, adopted his pseudonym and started to write books on Italian painting, Haydn and Mozart, and travels in Italy. In 1821 the Austrian police expelled him from the country, and on returning to Paris he finished his book De l’amour. This was followed by Racine et Shakespeare, a defense of Romantic literature. Le Rouge et le noir was his second novel, and he also produced or began three others, including La Chartreuse de Parme and Lucien Leuwen. None of his published works was received with any great understanding during his lifetime.

Beyle was appointed Consul at Civitavecchia after the 1830 revolution, but his health deteriorated and six years later he was back in Paris and beginning a Life of Napoleon. In 1841 he was once again recalled for reasons of illness, and in the following year suffered a fatal stroke. Various autobiographical works, Journal, Souvenirs de l’egotisme and La Vie de Henri Brulard, were published later, as his fame grew.


Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (December 30, 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014044307X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marie-Henri Beyle (23 January 1783 - 23 March 1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal, 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 novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
There are some readers, the editors of this volume for instance, who would like to reduce this astonishing book to an expression of Stendhal's love for an untouchable woman. Anyone willing to look a little beyond armchair psychology will find a work that is possibly the first 'Pale Fire'. On the surface the work is a philosophical and scientific discourse on the nature of love, and as such it has so much truth and insight that I urge you to give it to your loved one so that he/she might understand you a little better. But this treatise is a translation from the inchoate notes left by an Italian suicide, Lisio Visconti. It is full of anecdotes, stories, digressions, contradictions, repetitions, ellipses, declamations. The writer's objectivity, Kinbote-like, is continually undermined by his obvious madness, his reminiscences of a failed love affair, and that of a friend, Salviati, who may also be Visconti. This textual instability is a constant, playful joy, and perfectly mirrors the difficulties of the book's subject.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Artemio Rivera on August 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love by Stendhal is a classic, but the marvel about this book is that you get to experience the thoughts of this Nineteenth Century genius, whose love and obsession for a woman - Metilde - drives him to write this detailed and extremely insightful explanation about the passions and obsessions involved in romantic love. Without the assistance of Modern Psychology, Stendhal is able to explain with surprising precision and insight the feelings we experience when we are in love and the causes for such feelings. Anyone interested in understanding romantic love should read this masterpiece. Stendhal is honest, objective, and realistic ... despite being horribly brokenhearted.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Herlong on December 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stendhal spent a lot of time thinking about courtship, romance, and love. He spent a lot of time observing it. He spent a lot of time writing about it. How much personal experience or success he had, apart from one big rejection, is unclear. The one concept he may be most noted for is the "crystalization" which occurs after an initial period of dating when doubt, fear, and uncertainty about the love object occur. According to him, this process is necessary to compel lovers together to quell those very doubts. It is a mental process in which the beloved is idealized to an extreme degree. Apart from this, many of his musings seem quite dated as they are nearly 200 years old, and relationships between men and women have been affected by modern culture, feminism, etc. Apart from this, one conclusion that can be drawn is that there is too little love and that this part of human experience is mostly underdeveloped. This is probably so here in the U.S.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Earl Dennis on January 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Although sex, love, and reproduction can be differentially manifest they derive from a common causal nexus. By examining the behavior of love Stendhal indirectly addresses the conscious mode of sex and reproduction. Unlike the pagan attitudes toward love of many before him and as observed in modern times, Stendhal's love is well dressed, well mannered, honest, quixotic, honorable, and implausible,...yet witty, saucy, importunate, irrational, and realistically disastrous; quixotic I think being the rubric term. Indeed, the book reads like a serially condensed version of Cervantes' encounters between the true hearted lads and lasses of 'Don Quixote.' Stendhal even goes so far as to recommend Cervantes in Lisio Visconti's list of literature. In this book you will essentially get the following:
I). Stendhal's psychology of love, in which the stages of hormone poisoning and its concomitant cognitions are delineated. Within this framework he introduces his neologism 'crystalization;' i. e., as in how a plain twig, when left in a salt mine for some time, is pulled up covered with stunning, perfect crystals: these crystals representing the amplifications and embellishments the lover's mind dresses their object in. Stendhal goes on quite a bit regarding feminine pride, showing blatant respect and reverence for his objects of desire, but lamenting such foibles as false modesty, insipid prosaism, and vanity love.
II). This section reads like a cultural travelogue of love for western Europe from the early 19th century. Here love is a ruse used to chronicle what he sees as regional stereotypes of behavior. His self-deprecating dislike of all things French and antipodal regard for all things Italian pervades his cross-cultural mind set.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is Stendhal's analysis of Love. It was allegedly written because of his unrequited love for a woman named Methilde Dembowski. He analyzes in the work the kinds of Love , and the stages of Love. The work contains many aphorisms of great insight and beauty. For Stendhal one kind of Love the love he is afflicted with is a romantic love which is a kind of Madness. In the first part of the book he analyzes this kind of Love.

In the second part of the book he analyzses different national types in relation to Love, finding the French lacking and the Italians more successful.

This is a ' classic work' but in my reading of it it lacks the depth I sense is required to give a more convincing and comprehensive explanation of that Passion which makes us most human.
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