The Simplon Road

Ann Pearson


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CB editions
1 September 2023
ISBN: 9781739421212
74 pages

From the publisher

The Simplon Road is a book about literary obsession. In contrasting essays that delve into childhood and early reading, Ann Pearson and Charles Boyle – who have both written novels about the 19th-century French writer Stendhal – chronicle their involvement with an author who was notoriously keen to cover his tracks.

‘In this charming and perceptive “slip of a book”, two writers reflect on the serendipity of literary discovery and on the durability of literary passion. The figure – or figures – in which the two meet is the French novelist, travel writer and diplomat Stendhal, aka Henri Beyle, aka Henry Brulard, aka . . . any number of alter egos, pseudonyms and reliably unreliable narrators. Pearson and Boyle write frankly about themselves and their relationship with Stendhal, capturing the paradoxes of his writing: even as we feel we know him intimately, we miss him at every turn. They would not want it otherwise, because Pearson and Boyle are also writing about what it is to live literature.’
     – Patrick McGuinness

‘Ann Pearson and Charles Boyle, though far from uncritical of this at times infuriating master of self-concealment, produce affectionate, highly personal and witty accounts of what Stendhal has meant for them, showing how his quizzical zest has been a constant, even obsessional source of inspiration in their own lives and works. They also highlight the 21st-century anxieties that gnaw away at even this most ebulliently self-reinventing of authors: money, identity, relationships, career and, of course, getting on (in every sense).’
     – Andrew Brown, translator and biographer of Stendhal