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The Abbess of Castro by Stendhal
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The Abbess of Castro (1832)

by Stendhal

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In 'The Abbess of Castro', Stendhal tells the tragic story of Elena de' Campireali, only daughter in a wealthy 16th century Italian family, and her lover, a brigand named Giulio Branciforte. Stendhal describes the setting in great detail, explaining the influence of wealthy families, their relationship to Rome and the Church, the political allegiances among the brigands, and the particular geography of the Alban Hills in Italy. Sometimes this level of detail seems unmotivated, as when the Abby architecture or a battle formation is described, but later many of these details are shown to have been significant. I found this explanatory prose style to be a bit off-putting, breaking from the narrative too often for my taste, but it did provide vivid depictions of critical scenes and it clarified some complicated character motivations. ( )
  BobCulley | Oct 27, 2014 |
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We have so often been shewn in melodrama the Italian brigands of the sixteenth century, and so many people have spoken of them without any real knowledge, that we have come to hold the erroneous ideas of what they were like.
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