From “The Self-Inventing Man,” by V. S. Pritchett, in the November 6, 1969, issue of The New York Review of Books:
Stendhal’s method is to put a collection of static shots or stills together and to give a questioning, disjointed motion to them; the narrative flows only where he intervenes in one of his disguises. He is a restless rather than a flowing novelist. He is always beginning again. This abruptness is the making of his portraits of young men; here no novelist has surpassed him, not even Tolstoy. To be continually startled is to be young. No one has so defined and botanized the fervor, uncertainty, conceit, timidity, and single-mindedness of young men, their dash, their shames, their passion for tactics and gesture. They shed self after self and are always becoming something else; this, though with less elan, for in Stendhal’s world they are passive, as is true of his women. Stendhal’s sense of human beings living now yet transfixed, for an affecting moment, by their future, gives the doctrine of self-invention a depth which is not often noticeable in its practitioners today.