Thursday, December 6, 2007

Stendhal and his jokes

"This Minister, despite his frivolous manner and his brilliant remarks, did not possess a soul à la française; he was not able to forget his griefs and grievances. When his pillow revealed a thorn, he was compelled to snap it off, and blunt its point against his own throbbing limbs. (I apologize for this paragraph, translated from the Italian)."

The Charterhouse of Parma, Modern Library, p. 96.

This is an entire paragraph. The first sentence is the sort of French character versus Italian character stuff Stendhal likes. The second sentence is bizarre and barely comprehensible. The third sentence is a classic Stendhalian joke.

A classic Stendhalian joke is one no one else gets. His entire book On Love is in this genre.


  1. I have just began to read Charterhouse of Parma for the first time-I admit I was amazed and impressed to discover he was among the ten percent who survived the walk back from Moscow-

  2. Stendhal had a strange, strange life, but he was also a strange, strange man, so it all fits together well.

    I do not pretend to understand Stendhal well, so I look forward to your thoughts.

  3. I am also drawn to read his work as he seems to be one of the most popular western authors among Japanese writers -a number of them translated various of his works professionally or refer to them in their books-