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This report is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

Stendhal as a Lion in Love David Arkell

The strange affaire with Giulia Rinieri was the happiest in Stendhal's life. It was also the longest and the last, and left its mark on the great novels.

Stendhal met Giulia in Paris on 6 January 1827. Recently installed at the Ministry of Tuscany, where her guardian Signor Berlinghieri was Minister, she helped with the entertaining. But there was more to Giulia than that. Whatever his original motive, Berlinghieri had given his ward a brilliant education, and she was already making an impact on the capital. Stendhal had met her once at one of the fashionable salons - that of Mme George Cuvier at the Jardin des Plantes - and the following week he called on her at home. Her name even begins to appear on the flyleaves of the books in his library, a sure sign of growing interest, but life suddenly called elsewhere and they did not meet again for three years.

Then on 9 January 1830 he mentions her again, but this time he calls her Sienne because Sienna is her native town: he delighted in using codes because the secret police were such a worry, rather like the tabloids today. A few days later the following pronouncement turns up in another of the library books: 'Chance and chance alone chooses my friends: that astonishing meeting with Sienne on 21 January 1830 when unfortunately her confidences cut the wings of my imagination.' She took his breath away in other words, and there ...


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