Stendhal's Heroines: Escaping History Through History

This article argues that Stendhal saw historical insight as offering nineteenth-century French women the means of understanding their present condition, of deriving a maximum of happiness from it, and ultimately of moving beyond its limitations. While the author’s own interest in history was central to his practice as a writer, his letters to his sister suggest why he considered the study of history to be an especially important component of women’s education. The particular interest in historical reading that is evinced by many of Stendhal’s fictional heroines, as well as their tendency to emulate strong, often female role models from the past, is shown in his work to have potentially dangerous consequences, but also subversive and self-liberating possibilities. (MCS)

Scott, Maria C.
Volume 2009 Spring-Summer; 37(3-4): 214-26.