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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first 'Pale Fire'.
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...
Published on October 11, 2000 by darragh o'donoghue

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Thoughts About Love
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,...
Published on December 21, 2009 by Dennis Herlong


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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first 'Pale Fire'., October 11, 2000
This review is from: Love (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A philosophical and elaborate study of love, August 25, 2007
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This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Thoughts About Love, December 21, 2009
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This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
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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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Cold Philosopher' Analyses Reproductive Behavior, January 17, 2003
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Earl Dennis (San Francisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (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. As a Frenchman Stendhal only accepts the 12th century chivalry of Provence. This section of the book also evidences his strong advocacy of women's rights (although he does recommend life imprisonment for adulterous wives), and his excellent psychological juxtapose of Don Juan and Werther.
III). The fragments are probably the weakest part of the book but they add texture and pace. As the introduction by Stewart and Knight suggest, the fragments are an attempt to weave objective credibility into Stendhal's otherwise lugubrious pining over Mathilde Viscontini Dembowski.
IV). The appendixes are an interesting anecdotage containing chaplain Andre's 31 articles of love from the 12th century French court, and further elucidation of crystallization and it's advent in the salt mines of Salzburg. Here the book ends with two engaging tales, the near pedophilic chivalry of Philippe Astezan, and the vanity love of Felicie Feline.
Overall, Stendhal is lugubriously Quixotic, wittily irreligious, and insouciantly saucy. He captures a mixture of Laclos' intrigues, Plato's daemon of the Phaedrus, and Montaigne's candor. A dated but highly original work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The only remedy for love is to love more ", October 31, 2005
This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Analysis, June 14, 2013
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This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I was introduced to this book through references to it in B.F. Skinner's "Verbal Behavior," in the latter's treatment of "beautiful" and as a reference to the former's analysis of the beautiful mistress in "De l’amour." Also, Skinner's describes Stendhal's term, "crystallization" in the course of a developing love. I continue to read and re-read portions of Stendhal's book and am fascinated by its contemporary relevance.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars concerning the tedium of unrequited love, December 30, 2008
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This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
the tedium of stendhal's love. the majority of sentences in the first book reads like maxims. a couple of sentences chosen at random: `you might say that by some strange quirk of the heart, your beloved communicates more charm to her surroundings than she herself possesses. ... the man whose heart has leapt at the glimpse of his beloved's white satin hat in the distance is surprised at his own indifference to the greatest society beauty.' sentence after sentence linked together within the text without warning and until the reader is staring at a chained link fence. ont to say that stendhal is not the maximist la rochefoucauld or montaigne, two writers he quotes, were, although his reflections are much too melancholic. and he uses footnotes and attacks opinions of his day, taking the political personal and then generalizing the personal in a manner all too obscure that his anecdotes drown in a thick sludge of tedium. and to make matters worse, he assembles his material in the form of the kama sutra, we get alchemic recipes concerning love. some of the chapter headings: concerning the birth of love, concerning hope, concerning the different beginnings of love for the two sexes, concerning infatuation, concerning thunderbolts, concerning modesty, concerning glances, concerning feminine pride, concerning jealousy, cures for love.

love sent me scurrying back to nietzsche who loved stendhal. nietzsche referred to stendhal as one of europe's greatest voices, one of its greatest spirits. it's easy, if one takes the time, to read how nietzsche was influenced by stendhal beyond making death of god remarks (that stendhal made such remarks first poured a little envy into nietzsche's ichors), his love of the french arts and of maxims and, the later nietzsche, troubling political and religious statements.

unlike nietzsche, stendhal's gifts lay in storytelling. still there's the feeling that the nietzsche most influenced by stendhal was affected by the stendhal of love, and nietzsche's work casts light on stendhal's shadowy love.

even without the light of nietzsche, it must be remembered love is a collection grown from unrequited love, the source of melancholia. and what begins as a joyful wisdom, falls flat. love had been in the shadows of lawrence sterne's brilliance.

things pick up considerably in book two with glimmers of the stendhal of the red and the black, with a nod toward the charterhouse of parma. even those sterne shadows begin to fade when stendhal moves toward a concern of love in different climates. love flourishes better in hot climates, he says, than in cold climates, with the exception of switzerland of where stendhal's anecdotes read like the original farmer's daughter jokes. nor is the united states spared, of our national innocence (before playboy, porn internet and high profile political adulteries and church sex scandals) stendhal wrote: `... we see that the americans, without the misfortunes of governments, feel themselves to be lacking in something. it is as though the springs of sensitiveness had dried up in these people; they are rational, but they are not at all happy. ... there is such a habit of reason in the united states that the crystallization of love there has become impossible.'

in book one, stendhal developed a phenomena, a principle, of what he called `crystallization', as a metaphor of love from an activity at the salt mines of salzburg, where `they throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. two or three months later they haul it out covered with a shining deposit of crystals. the smallest twig, no bigger than a tom-tit's claw, is studded with a galaxy of scintillating diamonds. The original branch is no longer recognizable.' what stendhal calls `crystallization is a mental process of the perfection of the loved one.' an interesting and often amusing philosophy, until he becomes overly sententious. and much of the book is amusing and urbane.

the appendices, if you get that far (the often tedious text, rather compact at less than 275 pages, john updike referred to as `long'), are not to be skipped. the salzburg bough, ernestine, and an example of love can stand alone as short stories or, if true, anecdotes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No one does it better..., October 17, 2009
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This review is from: Love (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This is the finest and most illuminating book on a subject of universal interest. Stendhal probably gets certain things wrong (I think the claim that "crystallization" only produces illusion is oversimple--it creates a peculiar vantage point, which makes some things easier to see, and other things harder to see) but he gets so many things right, and has so little competition, that this book has to be a must read, a classic, for anyone who cares at all about romantic love at some point in their life... that is, everyone.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astounding, eternal classic, December 10, 1998
This review is from: Love (Paperback)
This is an incomparable work of beauty, inspiration and genius
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Love (Penguin Classics)
Love (Penguin Classics) by Stendhal (Paperback - December 30, 1975)
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