The Life of Henry Brulard
by Stendhal, translated from the French and with an introduction by John Sturrock, preface by Lydia Davis
The Life of Henry Brulard is the autobiography of one of France’s greatest writers, Stendhal, author of The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. Here, writing at white heat and with such ferocious honesty and indignation that his book was to remain unpublishable for more than a century after its composition, Stendhal revisits his unhappy childhood in a stuffy provincial town and bares his rebellious heart. His adored mother, who died when he was only seven; a father devoted only to his own social ambitions; the aunt whose daily cruelties passed for care: these are among the indelible portraits in a work that captures the sights, sounds, places, and characters of Stendhal’s youth, its pleasures and sorrows, with preternatural clarity and immediacy. Full of dazzling images and burning emotions, The Life of Henry Brulard is a vivid memoir that is also an extraordinary work of the imagination.
Stendhal's autobiography, written in 1835 and 1836, and carrying forward the story of his life by fits and starts to his seventeenth year, with fragmentary anticipations of later events, is one of the remarkable nineteenth-century documents of self-exploration. It is also an exemplary instance of the peculiar challenge Stendhal's quicksilver prose presents to the translator, a challenge admirably met by John Sturrock in his lively and faithful English version of La Vie de Henry Brulard.
— Robert Alter, The Times Literary Supplement
[Stendhal is] an autobiographer who has no time for the fallen bourgeois world, who despises his compatriots, but who digs deep into himself and his past in order to try and discover why this should be so—to our own vast benefit and pleasure as his future readers.
— John Sturrock
It is an engagingly youthful book in reaffirming the insolent political and other opinions he had first adopted as a boy....
— John Sturrock