Rejecting the classical canons, Stendhal at the same time recognized the existence of “iron laws” of reality and the need for their knowledge of the artist. He said: “It is necessary that the imagination has mastered the iron laws of the real world and, accordingly, was corrected by them.” This led him beyond romanticism, for which imagination was both a means of knowledge of the world, and an artistic realization of this knowledge. Stendhal believed that imagination could be based on the comprehension of the laws of reality, observation and analysis, and showed interest in “scientific methods,” in particular physiology and psychology, and these are the features and trends that characterized realism, developed in the first half of the nineteenth century. Unlike romantics, realist writers chose the path of observation and study of life’s specifics.
Of course, there were objective prerequisites and impulses that guided Stendhal on the path
of realism. However, the vector of his creative development should not be motivated solely by socio-historical circumstances and the laws of the literary process. No less important role here belongs to the individual factor, the personality of the writer. Even realistic works are not only a reflection of reality, but also a self-expression of the artist’s personality – his consciousness, attitude, mentality, temperament, subconsciousness, etc. It is clear that the direction of the writer’s creative development largely depends on his personality.
Despite the fact that Stendhal’s life, at least the first half, was quite turbulent and sometimes even dramatic, from the point of view of the external manifestations of this writer, one can hardly be called a bright person, because he was not too active and selfless in public and political affairs, had no inclination to sacrifice everything for the sake of ideals. However, according to one of the best stand-holders of B. Reizov, “for life, continuously and under any conditions…” the artist “reflected on the great problems
of life, about happiness, about art, about man and society, about the fate of the nation and about the mind and he looked at these questions comprehensively, from different, sometimes unexpected points of view: this, if you will, is the heroism of this ordinary life, was not seen by Stendhal himself. “
It is worth adding that Stendhal did not want to take anything on faith, striving to reach his own mind. Extremely observant, he immediately subjected to the observed impartial analysis and expressed judgments, which are quite often incomprehensible to contemporaries. Consequently, both the mental warehouse and the individual inclinations of the writer corresponded to a new, realistic direction, formed in the literature of that time. Stendhal was endowed with a strong imagination, but he tried to keep it within the framework that he himself established. At the same time, in the process of creativity, he forgot about restraint, giving free rein to the imagination. So in a constant combination of opposing aspirations his works were born, in particular such masterpieces as the novels “Red and Black” and “Parma Monastery.”
So who, finally, was Stendhal – a romantic or a realist? Obviously, the only suitable answer can be this: a romantic, and a realist. These two trends were combined in his work, transforming into a unique individual style, which can not be denied integrity and organic. At the same time, we must recognize that the realistic basis in the creative evolution of the writer acquired the leading meaning and significance.
The first work of Stendhal, the novel “Armance”, was published in 1827, At the time of universal fascination with the historical novel, which in France was in the 20s of the XIX century. It was a novel about modernity, moreover, – about the present, which was noted in the subtitle: “Scenes from the life of a Parisian salon in 1827”. However, it should be noted that the above subtitle reflects only one of the two main themes of the work, which can be defined as social-everyday. The second psychological theme of the novel is the love story of two young people, but love is impossible. And impossible not because before the enamored there are insurmountable social or family barriers, but because of physiological. “Armance” is a love-psychological novel of a new type, built on the physiological collision of a love drama, which,
The novel “Lucien Leuven” Stendhal wrote after the July Revolution, in 1834-1835, when the French nobility was pushed into the shadows and active and cynical businessmen came to power, for whom dark scams and dirty political intrigues were a native element. The unconditional supremacy of mercantile interests, corrupt officials, hungry workers and enthusiastic intellectuals, also suffer from poverty, – this was the case for the writer after the “glorious July days.” And Stendhal set himself the goal of depicting him as faithfully as possible, in style, most fits into the context of realistic literature of the XIX century.