The Charterhouse of Parma – chapter notes

  1. Chapter 1 a brief history of Napoleon’s invasions of Milan, and how Lombardy society cherished their invaders.
  2. Pre-Quisling I’d guess the term for Quisling was “Lombardy Hospitality”
  3. “It is ideas,” he would say, “which have corrupted Italy.” –Stendhal
  4. Chapter 3 — Fabrizio is chastised by a canteen woman for his dopey demeanor and runt horse. She sells him a horse and points him toward the battlefield. He falls in with a group of buffoons as dead bodies are piling up on the battlefield. Fabrizio lies about a connection to a soldier and gets drunk on brandy (too drunk to notice Napoleon when he passes by) and has his new horse stolen. Starving, he winds up back with the canteen woman.
  5. Fabrizio early tough to characterize; too young to be Quixotic, too dumb a King Arthur. Maybe Bertie Wooster is best?
  6. Chapter 4 –Fabrizio, after a nap, actually sees some action and shoots a man but is almost captured. A kind corporal takes the blockhead in, and with a few others they escape the battlefied. Again he has his horse stolen. Gets it back, guards a bridge (ala Lancelot) and is conned/stabbed. Some hero, this Fabrizio.
  7. Chapter 5 –Wounded Fab receives dubious care as he makes his way back home. His older brother has outed him as a Napoleon lackey, and he can’t come home without stealth. Once back, his aunt finagles a way to get him back in good graces. His penance is to attend mass, refrain from talking to anyone who might be intelligent, and to read only official state newspapers.
  8. Chapter 6 — Count Mosca shows up and begins schemin’ and shuckin’ and jivin’. Count me in.
  9. “I’ll wager,” said the Count, “that she’s bright enough to be ashamed of her father.” –Chapter 6
  10. The first virtue of a young man today is to be incapable of enthusiasm and not to have much in the way of brains. –Chapter 6
  11. Chapter 7 is first moves in political chess. The Prince tries to play the Count against his mistress, but the Count gets wise to the scheme. Meanwhile, the Count’s jealousy over Gina’s relationship to Fab almost ruins him. He calms down for the moment.
  12. Chapter 8 a transition of young Fab into adulthood; has a series of epiphanies alongside Lake Como, decides on the “flat and muddy” course of reality. His old tutor Abbe Blanes is on his deathbed and making predictions about Fab’s future.
  13. Chapter 9  more of Fab’s reverie on life and the end of youth. He has to sneak out of town, which he does, ineptly.
  14. “we are not in France, where everything ends with a song or a couple of years in prison.” –Count Mosca
  15. In every age, a base Sancho Panza triumphs over a sublime Don Quixote. –Count Mosca, 
  16. Chapter 11 –Fab kills his rival Giletti in a lengthy sword duel. After the death, Fab demands a mirror so that he might check his face for dramatic scars or injuries. Relieved that it’s only a shattered cheekbone, he escapes with help of peasants.
  17. Chapter 12 –Fab’s still on the run after killing Giletti. He receives letters that show how the Count and his aunt are being shunned and diminished in court for his misdeed.
  18. Chapter 13 an aside of main thread as Fab falls for a singer and woos her, is captured by her suitor a devious Count escapes from the Count, tires of the singer, and defeats the Count in a duel. His Aunt and Count Mosca disapprove of this latest nonsense.
  19. Despite the pleading of his Duchess aunt, Fab is finally arrested in Chapter 14 –high drama, low scheming.
  20. Chapter 15 and the Duchess learns of Fab’s imprisonment. Clelia, daughter of the jailer, pines for Fab. Ah, foreshadowing.
  21. “In you, dear Count, I see nothing, now, but the shadow of someone who was once dear to me” –Ch. 16
  22. Chapter 16 includes a long soliloquy from Gina re: how to save Fab and save her own raison d’être.
  23. Chapter 17 finds Count Mosca rehearsing all the  angles he might play against the Prince to free Fab and win back Gina.
  24. “–it requires a great deal of intelligence and a strong character to succeed in being a tyrant.” –Ch. 17
  25. Chapter 18 most all to do with Fab in prison. He’s got a view of Clelia’s orchard, hears the birds, pines, muses, sulks.
  26. Ch. 20 finds Fab’s life in danger due to attempted poisoning. Clelia compels him to escape and flee but he wants her and wants to stay in Parma and not skulk around. Duchess Gina plans Fab’s escape, sending him details of how and when and the Prince and his faction look to redouble their efforts to get rid of Fab. Chapter ends with Fab getting the signal to bust out.
  27. Chapter 21 a behind-the-scenes look at Duchess Gina’s plans for saving Fab from certain death-by-poison.
  28. “I am inclined to think that the immoral delight Italians experience in taking revenge is a consequence of their power of imagination.” –Stendhal
  29. Ch. 22 of and Fab finally escapes from the tower, the dozens of guards drunk on brandy, and Fab lowering himself via a series of thin super-ropes made up by his buddies. Duchess and the Count get him to Piedmont where he can recuperate. Duchess plans a final humiliation for the Prince, and rested Fab pens a letter to his jailer, apologizing for breaking out!
  30. Fab is bored and lonely in chapter 23 so Count Mosca and the Duchess make moves to get him back into Parma but the blockheaded Prince is a blockhead. Duchess Gina plays the Count and the Princess, and Fab sneaks back into Parma in disguise.
  31. Chapter 24 full of court nonsense as Duchess plays the Prince and Princess against her enemies…Fab meanwhile returns to the tower and jail, across the way from Clelia, who is set to be married to another anon.
  32. Fab saved by Clelia from a poisonous meal in ch. 25 while Duchess Gina offers up herself to the Prince if he gets Fab out of the tower. Fab is rescued, acquitted of his crime, installed as a Grand Vicar. He is miserable w/o Clelia.
  33. Much like Sarah Miles in Greene’s The End of the Affair Clelia made a vow to avoid Fab should he live/survive poisoning attempt.
  34. Ch. 26 features Fab coming out of his funk, going to Court, whist with the Prince, starting a new friendship w/ Clelia.
  35. The penultimate chapter finds Fab on the rise as a dazzling preacher. He’s also recalled as a Napoleonic hero which is hilarious since his true record of service w/ Napoleon is having his horse stolen countless times.
  36. Order of death in sad last chapter: Sandrino (Clelia and Fab’s son); Clelia; Fab; Countess (formerly Duchess Gina) Mosca