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Reviewed by:
  • L’Année Stendhalienne 1
  • Ralph Schoolcraft III
L’Année Stendhalienne 1. Philippe Berthier, ed. Paris: Champion, 2002. 345. ISBN2-7453-0740-1

The sequence of journals that have accompanied and in part propelled Stendhal's rise to fame have in recent years been impacted by economic imperatives and techno-logical transformations (rather than intellectual factors). Due to rising costs and shrinking circulation, famed Stendhal expert Victor Del Litto decided in 1995 to discontinue his legendary revue, Stendhal Club (which had itself replaced Henri Martineau's Le Divan when the latter ceased in 1958). To counter this most recent loss, noted nineteenth-century scholar Philippe Berthier founded L'Année Stendhal in 1997. After four annual issues, however, the project was forced to seek a new home. Reappearing now with a new title and a new publisher, Berthier's L'Année Sten-dhalienne marks a promising renewal of this legacy.

Berthier's editorial approach offers a number of advantages. It avoids the mis-cellanea format that marginalizes some author-specific journals. Instead, this "debut" issue features a selection of some 14 critics whose substantial articles exceed 30 pages on occasion. An introductory note also announces that the journal will be "resolutely independent and international" (7). As such, L'Année Stendhalienne avoids the pitfalls of theoretical and institutional cliquishness. In general terms, though, the methodologies tend toward literary history and "genetic criticism," eschewing the trendy jargon and rhetoric often associated with Anglo-Saxon publications.

In the area of genetic criticism (and related approaches), several articles contribute new findings. Working from an unpublished manuscript of Lamiel (dated May 1839), Serge Linkès establishes that Stendhal grounds the initial design of Lamiel's plot in a return to models of theatrical conflict that he first elaborated nearly 30 years earlier ("De Letellier à Lamiel, la comédie continue," 255-80). In the opposite direction, Serge Sérodes's "Remarques sur un titre: La Chartreuse de Parme" (207-17) performs a sort of microcritique in order to elucidate the anomaly of the title La Chartreuse de Parme (Sérodes argues that it is owed to the idiosyncratic laws of the author's ear for musicality and affection for coded onomastics). In "Les Épigraphes d'Armance ou la 'stratégie oblique' " (157-87), Maya Lavault's detailed analysis demonstrates that the epigraphs accompanying chapter headings constitute encrypt-ed, ironic commentaries on what this novel is famous for having left unsaid. Finally, in "Les Noces de Figaro and Le Rouge et le noir" (45-56), Masaoki Matsubara detects the shadow of Mozart's opera in numerous chapters of Stendhal's novel, with Julien in the role of Chérubin and Mme de Renal in that of Suzanne.

Turning to matters of literary history, Michel Décourt unearths an obscure text (Les Dangers de la frivolité) mentioned briefly in Stendhal's journal. Décourt's enter-taining commentary will appeal especially to scholars interested in the late stages of the epistolary novel ("À l'orée de l'œuvre de Stendhal, un roman par lettres," 119-56). In "Le Dossier de presse de La Chartreuse de Parme" (229-51), Jacques Houbert [End Page 449] undertakes some detective work of his own. Presenting documents recovered from lesser-known journals, he dispels the myths, established largely by Balzac and Sainte-Beuve but relayed by Stendhal scholars ever since, that La Chartreuse de Parme had no advertising support, was ignored by the press, and sold poorly.

Several pieces defend new approaches to Stendhal's works. Breaking with a tra-dition that has relied on biographical references to decipher De l'Amour's aphorisms, Yuichi Kasuya adopts the tactic of reading the work as a general philosophical argument. The following Stendhalian principles emerge: 1) love is defined by its reciprocity, the subject finding fulfillment in the experience of being loved by the object of its desire; 2) one's aptitude for love is a matter of character, which is formed by sociological and psychological factors; 3) since this character is defined in part by sociological factors, love is culturally relative; 4) the character best disposed for love is the romanesque, given its capacity for passion and transformation...


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