Stendhal, a horseman?

Did you know? The author of The Charterhouse of Parma and of The Red and the Black would have been a great horse aficionado, if we believe the essay written by the Count De Comminges. This ancient French cavalry official and prolific author of books on horses devoted almost sixty pages to try to answer this question. The idea occurred to him when detailing an equestrian choice made by the young hero from The Charterhouse. To be sure, De Comminges read all of Stendhal’s work in order to prove his theory. And the response was positive. Yes, Henri Beyle, Stendhal’s real name (1783-1842), was a horseman. We know that he served in the Sixth Dragon and that he crossed Europe on horseback.

One of our greatest exponents of the nineteenth-century French novel was able to accurately portray the romantic aspirations of the youth of his time in the context of Napoleonic battles. A man of good birth had to choose one of two paths for his culmination: the church or the battlefield. To embrace the military career, he had to know how to handle “the knife and the spurs”. The gallops of the young aristocrat Fabrice del Dongo, or those of the young Polytechnic Lucien Leuwen, illuminated the exhalation of his rather naive heroes. Stendhal does not hesitate to place them in difficulties, letting them ride on old rocines or making them fall from their saddle. Does the horse act as a developer of the character of its characters? Judge for yourself. You can easily read and re- read the Charterhouse of Parma or Lucien Leuwen to verify if Stendhal was an Anglo-man or if he preferred the Iberian current…

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