The Charterhouse of Parma (The classic romantic thriller!) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy New
  • List Price: $13.00
  • Save: $2.80 (22%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Charterhouse of Parma (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 19, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0140449662 ISBN-10: 0140449663 Edition: Revised

Buy New
Price: $10.20
32 New from $7.03 33 Used from $0.01 2 Collectible from $6.50
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$7.03 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

The Charterhouse of Parma (Penguin Classics) + The Red and the Black (Penguin Classics) + Sentimental Education (Penguin Classics)
Price for all three: $25.79

Buy the selected items together


Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (January 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449662
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Officer, diplomat, spy, journalist, and intermittent genius, Marie Henri Beyle employed more than 200 aliases in the course of his crowded career. His most famous moniker, however, was Stendhal, which he affixed to his greatest work, The Charterhouse of Parma. The author spent a mere seven weeks cranking out this marvel in 1838, setting the fictional equivalent of a land-speed record. To be honest, there are occasional signs of haste, during which he clearly bypassed le mot juste in favor of narrative zing. So what? Stendhal at his sloppiest is still wittier, and wiser about human behavior, than just about any writer you could name. No wonder so meticulous a stylist as Paul Valéry was happy to forgive his sins against French grammar: "We should never be finished with Stendhal. I can think of no greater praise than that."

The plot of The Charterhouse of Parma suggests a run-of-the-mill potboiler, complete with court intrigue, military derring-do, and more romance than you can shake a saber at. But Stendhal had an amazing, pre-Freudian grasp of psychology (at least the Gallic variant). More than most of his contemporaries, he understood the incessant jostling of love, sex, fear, and ambition, not to mention our endless capacity for self-deception. No wonder his hero, Fabrizio de Dongo, seems to know everything and nothing about himself. Even under fire at the Battle of Waterloo, the young Fabrizio has a tendency to lose himself in Napoleonic reverie:

Suddenly everyone galloped off. A few moments later Fabrizio saw, twenty paces ahead, a ploughed field that seemed to be strangely in motion; the furrows were filled with water, and the wet ground that formed their crests was exploding into tiny black fragments flung three or four feet into the air. Fabrizio noticed this odd effect as he passed; then his mind returned to daydreams of the Marshal's glory. He heard a sharp cry beside him: two hussars had fallen, riddled by bullets; and when he turned to look at them, they were already twenty paces behind the escort.
The quote above, a famous one, captures something of Stendhal's headlong style. Until now, most English-speaking readers have experienced it via C.K. Scott-Moncrieff's superb 1925 translation. But now Richard Howard has modernized his predecessor's period touches, streamlined some of the fussier locutions, and generally given Stendhal his high-velocity due. The result is a timely version of a timeless masterpiece, which shouldn't need to be updated again until, oh, 2050. Crammed with life, lust, and verbal fireworks, The Charterhouse of Parma demonstrates the real truth of its creator's self-composed epitaph: "He lived. He wrote. He loved." --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The Charterhouse of Parma has never sparkled in English with such radiance as it does in Richard Howard's new translation."
--Edmund White

"[A] superb new translation."
--Bernard Knox, The New York Review of Books

"An epic tale of war, love, sex, politics, and action-packed narrative."
--The New Yorker

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

The book is comic in the way the Odyssey is a comedy.
Doug Anderson
Anyone can like this novel - and you don't have to be a writer as Balzac, Gide, James or Franzen.
A. T. A. Oliveira
Once again, a scholarly revision of this translation would be useful.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Rafi Zabor on June 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm a longtime fan of this wonderful novel which until recently almost no one seemed to read. There is nothing like it in the whole of literature, and the good reader is exhilirated and refreshed by the blast of Stendhal's sustained burst of inspiration: done in six and a half weeks and he lopped off the last 150 pages at the publisher's request (and realized his mistake but couldn't find the sheets: keep looking, folks). New readers are advised to plow through the first 50 pages, which are just as good as the rest of the book but from which it is very difficult to catch the book's unique tone; the great set-piece of the Battle of Waterloo will set you straight. I'm not sure that the vaunted new Richard Howard translation is better than the reliable old waddle of the Penguin, but that might just be my hankering for a familiar flavor. But what a book! Bliss to read it, and the Duchessa Sanseverina might well be the most magnificent woman in the whole of literature; she's certainly the only woman of such stature in 19th century fiction who doesn't have to pay the price for it by a suicide in the last chapter. Much of the book's inimitable energy derives from the enjambment of a whole range of incompatibles: a story out of renaissance Italy set in post-Napoleonic times; characters simultaneously seen from the perspective of great worldly experience and that of an enthusiastic adolescence conceiving them as larger than life (Mosca and the Duchessa primarily, but also demi-villains like the Prince and the hilarious Rassi); and so on. Fabrizio is a dashing cipher, is occasionally idiotic, the very archetype of impassioned inexperience.Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By jcd on April 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
This will be mainly a note on translations--and a rather muddled one at that.

Years before I read "Charterhouse of Parma" I read "Red and Black," and one thing I noticed with that book, which I love, is what a tricky thing it is to translate Stendhal. I read the old Margaret Shaw translation in an old used Penguin--much maligned, just like her "Charterhouse" translation. But I found something odd: Shaw's very British failure to even try to approximate Stendhal's dash and offhand brio, his proto-modern style-of-no-style, actually worked well. Shaw concentrated only on faithfully conveying Stendhal's sense, and so in spite of her mid-twentieth century educated British English, Stendhal's authorial voice came through beautifully. She didn't get his literary style but she caught his thought on the wing, and in "Red & Black" that's what really matters.

But in "Charterhouse," literary style is really inseparable from the work. For this deconstructed medieval fairytale set among the reactionary, repressive, collapsing aristocracies of revolutionary Europe, Stendhal employed a self-consciously traditional tale-teller's style, yet laced through with his own ironic realism. That hybrid/clash of styles is crucial, since it embodies Stendhal's vision of a modern Europe groaningly aborning amid its contradictions: for example, say, in expressing the delicious mash-up of incongruities between that old staple of Euro-tales, the humble subject approaching the throne of the king for a favor, and the shockingly novel, psychologically and politically realistic use Stendhal makes of that received form here. This is the thrilling birth of modern literature, and the presentational voice really matters. And is really hard to get right, judging from the translation attempts I've tried.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey R Galipeaux on May 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Can we make a better book today than The Charterhouse of Parma? No. Stendhal breaks rules right and left and is not always graceful, but the completeness of his fictional universe is staggering. Here is a man who could tell sweeping, epic stories in terms of minute personal expression, and tell them with humane wit. Funnier than James', unburrdened by Tolstoy's morality, more penetrating than Balzac's, and more approachable than Dostoyevsky's, Stendhal's literary universe is one of the most pleasing and evocative for the modern reader, and The Charterhouse of Parma is his masterpiece. Read this book, now!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A. Lowry on August 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hard to say whether Charterhouse or Red & Black is better; lately I lean to Red & Black (get Catherine Slater's Oxford translation; shun the new B. Raffel paraphrase). The fun of reading Stendhal, I think, is his narration; one briefly feels as clever, as observant, as clear-headed, as the narrator.
The Modern Library has apparently decided that, with so many good Stendhal translations out there (Slater; Mauldin's Charterhouse; the NEW Penguin R & B; Lowell Bair's Charterhouse), it has a duty to provide bad ones. Richard Howard's translation has errors that even my schoolboy French can pick up. The New Criterion (which may have its own bones to pick w/ Mr. Howard, true) listed a great many flaws in his command of the French. And he's tone deaf to Stendhal in many of my favorite passages (not as bad as the old Shaw Penguins, but bad enough). If you read Howard's Stendhal & think you don't like him, try a better translation.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?