Stendhal and Wallflowers

The Stendhal Syndrome is characterized by a series of symptoms like dizziness, fainting, increased heartbeat, and confusion after the exposure to a beautiful stimulus. 

The scene had taken place within one of the numerous rooms that resides within the Roman palazzo of Doria Pamphilj, a unique palace situated on Via del Corso. Now just a mere smeared memory, the atmosphere of that afternoon has been altered due to the fleeting nature of this memoir. My vision had a dusty hue. The fragmented air was contained between emerald walls. Surrounded by the many curious visitors, a collection of paintings hanged. They were similar to wallflowers on sturdy stems. Un-aware of their might the paintings stood before us quite timidly. It was an encounter with time. Filled full of details of uncharted territory, I just like any young woman could not help but be carried away by imagination. The past was there, various strokes of colors blended at the pace of a wandering gaze. The efforts of many artists called upon the remembrance of their vision. Standing still, my emotions were tested. Similar to a woman who had been struck by love at first sight. My heart raced as centuries revealed time most overwhelmingly.


The symptoms were psychosomatic, and my nerves felt weak.

I was in Turin the first time I found the book “De L’Amour”. It was a dirty copy that was quite aged. Enticed by the title in French, it did not cost much so I was fortunate to find a bargain. Stendhal’s novel took me back, where the ways of men were almost courtly and at the time also oddly extravagant. The Crystallization of Love was a metaphor that was portrayed as a transformative trip. It was a trip from the city of Bologna to Rome. Many were the cases used to describe what were Stendhal’s perceived states of falling love. It seems to be a slow process that comes from admiration. The admiration of one’s qualities then become acknowledged. That sense of awareness either in better or in worse becomes hope. A hope, that is similar to the need for understanding oneself in his vision of the “future”. Will there be many in our day in age that will have the chance to feel this hope? It is so difficult to transcend all depths to climb heights for another.

Marie-Henri Beyle was known as Stendhal. He was a French author passionate about Italy. Throughout the 1800s he trod across the country of Italy, leaving testimony of his adventures in various books; “De L’amour“, “Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio“, and so on. The Stendhal Syndrome was coined thanks to the author’s visit to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in the city of Florence. He stated “I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations.” in regards to the emotional upheaval he was subjected to. Who could blame him? Any healthy man would have done the same.

The first qualification for a historian is to have no ability to invent. – Stendhal


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