Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), 1783 - 1842

portrait of Stendhal
Portrait by Johan Olaf Sodermark (1840)
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Born: 23 January 1783, Grenoble, France
Died: 23 March 1841, Paris, France

Beyle was close to his mother, but she died seven years after his birth; he disliked his father, hated his aunt who took over raising him, and detested the Jesuit priest hired as his tutor. Through family connections he got an administrative job with the government in 1810, two years later he traveled with Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia, in which three-fourths of the force died. Following the war, politics forced him into exile in what is now Italy, an area he genuinely enjoyed; when his relationship with France was good he served as consul at Trieste and Civitavecchia. His writing often was in conflict with governments, he wrote under over a hundred noms de plume, the most common one being Stendhal. As a writer he was a realist in a romantic era and his work was widely read only in the twentieth century. Not only did his many amorous affairs lead to conflict, they led to syphilis. His disabilities in later life were probably due more to the treatments he received than the disease.

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