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La Chartreuse de Parme

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  13,557 ratings  ·  493 reviews
Cadet de grande famille fasciné par Napoléon qu'il rêve d'aller rejoindre, Fabrice del Dongo arrive à Waterloo quand commence la bataille. Mais il ne suivra pas la carrière des armes à quoi il aspirait, et consentira à devenir prélat. Avec assez de détachement, cependant, pour que l'essentiel reste bien pour lui la chasse au bonheur - c'est-à-dire l'amour.
Quand Stendhal pu
Mass Market Paperback, 741 pages
Published August 23rd 2000 by Le Livre de Poche (first published March 1839)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,557 ratings  ·  493 reviews

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Bill  Kerwin
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Stendhal depicts both the amorous passion and the predilection for court intrigue present in the Italian character, yet he does this with an irony and a political analysis indisputably French, thereby producing not only a great realistic novel but a work which comments on the romantic novels that have gone before.

And yet--here is the marvelous part--"The Charterhouse of Parma," for all its realism, is still an incredibly romantic novel, containing a battle, a duel, a knife fight, various disgui
Jr Bacdayan
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
JR was writing a little note on a piece of parchment when a cry was heard outside his door. ‘Bring him here, the rascal. I shall have his head cut off!’ There was a commotion and the door was opened and he recognized Conte Crescenzi, quite inebriated, and spouting forth such obscenities that would have made the most devilish of villains blush. Such buffooneries were uttered that even the dogs barking outside were scandalized. It was later claimed by the lowest class that at the same moment, insi ...more
Adam Dalva
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sprawling, sloppy, often-exhilarating read. It is an almost absolute middle point between Tom Jones (the handsome lead, the vignette-y style, the wonderful humor, the slapsticky regard for human life, the excess coincidences that characterize the early novel) and War and Peace, which it clearly influenced in its court/war split and its fascination with Napoleon.

It is too long by half - the scenes of intrigue in Parma are remarkably redundant - and has some messy threads that never really reso
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Standard 19th century French novel? Not even close. This book defies almost every convention of the novel, and it was written before any of those conventions were even recognized! No hero, no heroine, no real plot; no morality lesson; Machiavellian politics for everyone; love doesn't conquer all; love doesn't even exist in this world until the main character gets locked away in prison for a womb-like nine months; a narrator who couldn't care less about the whole thing...this is so modern it hurt ...more
Mark André
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-iv, french-lit
A long twisting tale of love and intrigue.
Masterful story telling. Fun to read.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stela-eða-láni
O wretched soul, what sweetness it was!
How we burned at the moment when I saw
those eyes that I might never see again.

Lines from Petrarch, on handkerchief given secretly as a gift in novel's forbidden love affair

The 1839 Charterhouse represented a movement away and forward from the romanticism of Stendhal's time, this was one of the earliest examples of realism in a way that was considered revolutionary then; Balzac considered it the most important novel of his time. Though some elements of the r
I read this looking for more atmosphere and details about the Napoleonic wars, having just read War and Peace in which Tolstoy does a wonderful job of conveying how Napoleon's Russian campaign was viewed by some sections of Russian society. The beginning of this novel was promising with descriptions of how the people of Milan and the surrounding area viewed the Napoleonic conquest but soon the author began a long and involved courtly love saga that might have belonged more in the twelfth century ...more
I picked this up last month because I'm a huge fan of The Red And The Black, easily one of my top five novels. Stendahl was a nineteenth century French satirist who bascially invented the realistic psychological novel, and The Red And The Black is a wicked black comedy about a cunning young priest who plots to become Pope, and his subsequent adventures in high society. Like I say I loved this book so I had high hopes for Charterhouse.

Unfortunately, in my opinion after a promising start this book
Not bad until the end where it grows maudlin, alas, and becomes a slog. Worthwhile overall, but The Red and the Black it isn't.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
2 1/2 stars

Apparently Balzac considered this to be the most important French novel of its time. I haven't read anything by Balzac but just going off of this comment I think we must have vastly different tastes. Either that or all the other books released were really really bad. Or possibly the translator did a really shoddy job?

The book had its good points - it was frequently slyly funny for instance - but my overriding impression of it is just that it was a humongous mess. I never knew what the
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read. Politics, action, humanism vs.conservatism, passion vs. lack of passion, lovers, rivals, extreme wealth and the values of aristocracy, all the characters with both good and bad actions and ways of thinking. Set in the autocratic monarchy of Parma in Italy between 1815 and 1830.

A fascinating exploration of what motivates people and how they act. The plot is held together by the stories of a brilliant, activist Duchess and her impetuous nephew, but includes many m
David Lentz
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this novel after finishing The Red and the Black, which I thought was the far better novel of the two. The scenes in which Fabrizio joins Napoleon's army at Waterloo really come to life and shine in the narrative of Stendahl, as he had been a soldier in battle for Napoleon during his lifetime. Fabrizio really is a bit too much of a narcissist and after a while, despite his handsome youth and intellect, I found myself tiring of him. He really made a number of knuckleheaded moves with his c ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, rth-lifetime, poison
You know, this didn't really do it for me. I found myself describing it as a poor man's Count of Monte Cristo crossed with a poor man's Madame Bovary, but not as interesting as that makes it sound. There are some great scenes, but a lot of exposition in between; I just never felt completely drawn in. For a novel with as much plot as this has, I was rarely dying to know what happened next.

It's got a terrific battle scene in it, though, just this amazing picture of "Wait, are we fighting? Am I in
Michael Finocchiaro
In somewhat stark contrast to the darkness of the The Red and the Black, La Chartreuse de Parme is a comedic masterpiece from a youthful Stendhal. Well, humorous as well as languorous at the end. In it is one of the funniest incidents in all of French literature (perhaps eclipsed by the "souliers rouge" incident in Coté de Guermantes) where the hapless protagonist Fabrice dreams of Napoleon and somehow wanders onto the battlefield of Waterloo - rather like someone in Universal Studios would rand ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A dazzling "opera" and the worldliest of books ever written.
Parmesan courtlife is both Machiavellian & Ruritanian. Courtiers,
politicos, Great Ladies and Ministers of State banter, plot,
betray and caress romantic dreams within a maze of social
maneuvers. The young hero has a Candide-quality and his high-born
aunt - a duchess who uses sex with brains as a handbook on tactics
- is among the most enchanting women in fiction.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, french
A fun and enjoyable read. Burned through this quite easily. Swordfights, duels, prisoner escapes. Not quite as masterly as The Red and the Black but still fun. Straddles the line somewhere between Romanticism and Realism, with its character depictions as well as the imagery.
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know what my expectations were, but certainly I never expected a soap-opera. A great soap-opera, though, that kept me intrigued by the most part.

I also did not expect the stream of consciousness, the lightness and the sense that Stendhal was breaking the writing rules, of his time and even of ours.

I cannot let go of the feeling that Stendhal would had been better under the guidance of a good editor. Some passages are too long, some are too short. Important information is thrown at us hi
Jim Coughenour
Richard Howard's recent translation of Stendhal's classic rescues the novel from the fustiness of the Penguin version*; I almost felt as if I were reading the book for the first time. For me, Stendhal is one of the pure pleasures of literature, one of those "effortless" novels that makes up for a whole lot of everyday ugliness.

* I was referring to the translation I read in the 80s. After I wrote this review, I noticed that Penguin has a new (2007) translation by John Sturrock – one the translato
Tim Parks
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is honestly one of the strangest and most exhilarating novels you are ever likely to read. Stendhal explores the 'reality' or perhaps madness of living with passion, without fear or conformity. One never quite knows whether one's reading a realist historical novel or a bizarre fantasy, but all the same it is captivating and intriguing in every twist or turn. Quite unpredictable throughout.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pour-la-fac
Darran Mclaughlin
I found this novel disappointing because I loved The Red and the Black so much and was expecting something similar. I found that I didn't really warm to the characters very much, which is exactly the kind of criticism I usually find trite. Julien Sorel, the protagonist of Stendhal's earlier novel, is an excellent character and the Red and the Black deserves to be regarded as one of the milestone's in the evolution of the novel for it's realism, psychological insight and investigation of class. I ...more
Sam toer
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Politics, in a work of literature ," Stendhal once said , "are like a pistol-shot in the middle of a concert, something crude which, nevertheless, one can't possibly ignore." Stendhal's remark explodes at point-blank in this novel "The Charterhouse of Parma", the epic tale of a young French officer in the Napoleonic wars, and his aunt - a duchess of legendary beauty and resourcefulness. Unlike the darkness of the "Red and Black", "The Charterhouse of Parma" is a comic masterpiece; a classic of ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own

Stendhal wrote this novel in 52 days. It shows.

Beyond that issue, it's operatic and overly melodramatic. Lovers pining for each other for hundreds of pages. Court intrigues that are hard to follow because if there are several Counts and Princes, they will each be called "the prince" or "the Count" rather than their proper name. Never mind us...we're just trying to read here...

It's hard to take the measure of Stendhal's tone; for the first 300 pages I couldn't tell if he was being ironic or strai
Jul 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not often that I enjoy a book about a playboy who fights in battles, takes up religion because it's the easy track, and deals with the politics of court.

And yet... ahh, Stendhal, how I love your works.

The Charterhouse of Parma is full of the same sarcasm, comments on society, and "dark" humor that flavors his other works (The Red and the Black, anyone?). It's a splendid book all around: wonderfully written (translated beautifully in my opinion), full of characters that are wretched and piti
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An overly sentimental love story that emerges in the middle of a 19th-century political thriller. If A loves B, then B likes C, only for C to feel irresistibly attracted to D. Plenty of unrequited love and one-sided emotions. On the rare occasion when two protagonists occur to fancy each other their fate is futile due to unalterable social constraints. In this world love tends to materialize at first sight and it’s usually stimulated by the idealized person’s appearance rather than his or her in ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read “The Red And The Black” a few months ago and decided to follow it up with “The Charterhouse of Parma.” I feel “The Red And The Black” is the better book. Julien Sorel is one of the most interesting and complex characters in literature and the book’s architecture was very well thought out. Nevertheless, both books are well deserving of their high reputations.

Of all the novelists of his era, Stendhal was perhaps the most passionate music lover. He wrote books on Haydn, Mozart, Rossini and o
Jul 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The latest in a line of books that I end up reading because it is on someone else's list. This one is not bad although it does not fare as well as some of the others.

The biggest problem for me is that the sort of book that it promises to be in the first 100 pages or so is not the book that The Charterhouse of Parma actually ends up being. You might expect, based on the cover blurb and the early action, that this novel is chiefly the story of Fabrizio del Dongo (who I'll probably always think of
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
Despite how long it took me to finish, I got through the majority of this book pretty quickly. There was a point, a bit past the middle of the book, where it became really tedious to me, and I could only bring myself to read the same paragraph over and over whenever I attempted to pick it up again. I don't think it was really the book's fault; I got distracted by rekindled obsession with Huysmans and subsequently Flaubert, and this book just wasn't in the same vein of what I thought I wanted to ...more
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Henri-Marie Beyle, 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 in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).
“The lover thinks oftener of reaching his mistress than the husband thinks of guarding his wife; the prisoner thinks more often of escape than the jailer thinks of locking the doors. Therefore, in spite of every obstacle, the lover and the prisoner are certain to succeed.” 8 likes
“This beautiful thought, of 'dying close by that which one loves', expressed in a hundred different ways, was followed by a sonnet in which it was found that the soul, separated, after atrocious torments, from the frail body in which it dwelt for twenty-three years, and impelled by that instinct for happiness natural to all that has once existed, would not reascend to heaven to mingle with angelic choirs as soon as it was set free, and in the event of the awful judgment according it forgiveness for its sins, but, happier after death than it had been in life, it would go a few steps from the prison where it had lamented for so long, to be reunited with all that it had loved in the world. And thus, the sonnet's last line went. I shall have found my paradise on earth.” 3 likes
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