Thanks to new German translations of The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal has recently been rediscovered as one of the greatest novelists of world literature. But the pseudonym Stendhal conceals a life story that is by no means any less adventurous than his novels: Henri Bleyle was born in 1783 in Grenoble. He took part in Napoleon's victorious Italian campaign in 1800, and witnessed the disastrous defeat of the Grande Armeé in 1812 in Moscow. After that he went on to become the French consul for Italy, leading a glamorous life in both Paris and his favourite city, Milan, and was better known as a womaniser than a writer. He died in Paris in 1842. But there was one thing he was always sure of: »I shall only be read in 1880 or 1900«. Stendhal was to be proven right. Following his superb biography of Napoleon, Johannes Willms recounts the life story of the last pre-bourgeois author; a literary maverick, an adventurer and man of letters, for whom writing was just one of many activities, and not necessarily the most important.
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