Stendhal's five days of Carnival

An interesting reference to the Rijeka Carnival can be found in a letter written by the renowned French novelist and narrator, Marie-Henri Beyle Stendhal, one of the greatest writers from the first half of the 19th century. In this letter, written on 17th January 1831, sent to the Baron de Mareste, Stendhal describes his trip to Rijeka.

According to Stendhal, Rijeka is the “last point of civilisation”. Furthermore, he describes it as a charming town of 6000 souls.

“A man in Rijeka who has 40,000 francs is a rich and respected man. He was told not to burden himself with huge debts that he could not pay. This was exactly what one of his predecessors had done (referring to the Count de La Rue, the French Consul in Trieste), but he had two crosses for his credits. He was fascinated by Rijeka’s natural surroundings. The warmth and location are magnificent, to be envied. It is like Porto Maurizio on the Italian Riviera, an interesting place where he was welcomed warmly and where he “celebrated” as if there was a carnival every day. “Five carnivals in five days”, “cinque carnavaux’’, he said.

The thing Stendhal adored about Rijeka was its sun, thanks to which he didn’t need a furnace for heating. He thought that there was no Bura wind in Rijeka (evidently he did not know about the proverb about the Bura’s birth, wedding and dying), and that for 3 thousand francs a year one could find a house by the sea, in the sun, for pleasant idleness, with as many as three, four servants, and seven or eight rooms and…many cups of chocolate for his guests.

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