Perfidious Albion: The Story of Stendhal and British Culture

Perfidious Albion: The Story of Stendhal and British Culture (Edward Everett Root Publishers, 2018)

Prominent among those Frenchmen who, in 1815, wanted to know more about the small island which had become rich enough to finance so many alliances against Napoleon was Henri Beyle (Stendhal) who visited Britain on three occasions during the 1820s and made, in that period, hundreds of contributions to London-based periodicals. This book traces the impact of British culture on Stendhal from the moment when, as a boy in Grenoble, he first became convinced that Shakespeare was the greatest dramatist who had ever lived. It describes the significance of his meeting with Byron at La Scala in 1816, the influence on him of Scott as he began to develop his own version of Romanticism, and his later meetings with writers such as Hazlitt. There is much new material in this study of how the life-story of one, highly gifted individual illuminates an important phase in Anglo-French relations but also, in these days when those relations are about to enter a wholly new phase, a good deal that British readers are likely to find eerily familiar.

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