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In 1818, when he was in his mid-thirties, Stendhal met and fell passionately in love with the beautiful Mathilde Dembowski. She, however, was quick to make it clear that she did not return his affections, and in his despair he turned to the written word to exorcise his love and explain his feelings. The result is an intensely personal dissection of the process of falling - and being - in love: a unique blend of poetry, anecdote, philosophy, psychology and social observation. Bringing together the conflicting sides of his nature, the deeply emotional and the coolly analytical, Stendhal created a work that is both acutely personal and universally applicable.

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