Racine and Shakespeare
Translated by Guy Daniels
This major critical work by the great French novelist reveals Stendhal’s decisive role in the literary renaissance called Romanticism. Written sixteen years before The Charterhouse of Parma, it marked the beginning of his illustrious career and established him at the forefront of the French Romantic movement. The first part of Racine and Shakespeare appeared as a pamphlet in 1823, when Waterloo was still bitterly alive in the French mind. In it, Stendhal vigorously championed the spontaneous vitality of Shakespeare while condemning the rigid imitators of Corneille and Racine. The second half of Racine and Shakespeare appeared two years later in answer to a speech against Romanticism by the secretary of the Académie Française.
It is a brilliant tour de force, an exchange of letters between an old classicist and a young Romanticist, in which Stendhal defined Romanticism not only for his age but for all time.
Marie-Henri Beyle (1783–1842), better known by his pen name Stendhal, is one of the foremost Romantic novelists. His masterpieces include The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma.