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The Red and the Black

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In December of 1827, Marie Henri Beyle read a newspaper account of the trial of a young man charged with the attempted murder of a married woman. With this as inspiration, Beyle - under the pen hame of Stendhal - set about writing what was to become one of the great psychological novels of all time, "The Red and the Black." Set in a small provincial French town, and in Par In December of 1827, Marie Henri Beyle read a newspaper account of the trial of a young man charged with the attempted murder of a married woman. With this as inspiration, Beyle - under the pen hame of Stendhal - set about writing what was to become one of the great psychological novels of all time, "The Red and the Black." Set in a small provincial French town, and in Paris, the book tells the story of Julien Sorel, a handsome and brilliant young tutor who is both hero and villian. Considered one of literature's most complex characters, Sorel is cold, opportunistic, and uncompromising with others - including his influential mistress - as he seeks to fulfill his lust for power and wealth; yet he is hopelessly victimized by his own romantic soul and by the military and religious forces - the "Red" and the "Black" - that prevail in all of France.

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In December of 1827, Marie Henri Beyle read a newspaper account of the trial of a young man charged with the attempted murder of a married woman. With this as inspiration, Beyle - under the pen hame of Stendhal - set about writing what was to become one of the great psychological novels of all time, "The Red and the Black." Set in a small provincial French town, and in Par In December of 1827, Marie Henri Beyle read a newspaper account of the trial of a young man charged with the attempted murder of a married woman. With this as inspiration, Beyle - under the pen hame of Stendhal - set about writing what was to become one of the great psychological novels of all time, "The Red and the Black." Set in a small provincial French town, and in Paris, the book tells the story of Julien Sorel, a handsome and brilliant young tutor who is both hero and villian. Considered one of literature's most complex characters, Sorel is cold, opportunistic, and uncompromising with others - including his influential mistress - as he seeks to fulfill his lust for power and wealth; yet he is hopelessly victimized by his own romantic soul and by the military and religious forces - the "Red" and the "Black" - that prevail in all of France.

30 review for The Red and the Black

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    I was taking the train from Geneva to Grenoble, one of the most beautiful routes in the world, and I was reading Le Rouge et le Noir for the second time. I hadn't picked the book because I was visiting Grenoble, it just worked out that way. I was alone in the compartment; it was one of those old-fashioned carriages which still had compartments. At the fifth or sixth stop, the door opened, and a young woman entered carrying a lot of heavy luggage. She asked me, in French, if I'd mind helping her p I was taking the train from Geneva to Grenoble, one of the most beautiful routes in the world, and I was reading Le Rouge et le Noir for the second time. I hadn't picked the book because I was visiting Grenoble, it just worked out that way. I was alone in the compartment; it was one of those old-fashioned carriages which still had compartments. At the fifth or sixth stop, the door opened, and a young woman entered carrying a lot of heavy luggage. She asked me, in French, if I'd mind helping her put it up on the rack, and I did so. She smiled and thanked me, I smiled back. She was small, dark and very pretty in a North African way. We got chatting, and quickly determined that her English was slightly worse than my French; the conversation, which initially had mixed both languages, settled down to being completely francophone. She told me that French was her second language, Berber being the first, but she sounded pretty near perfect to me. She asked what my book was, and I showed it to her. She'd said she'd never read it. I did my best to explain, while she looked at me with her huge dark eyes. Julien gets involved with two women. Madame de Rênal is kind and gentle, and she truly loves him, but he is forced by circumstances to leave her. He then later falls in love with Mathilde. I remember that I described her as bizarre et cruelle, and added that she reminded me of someone I had once loved. She nodded; she had had a similar experience. I apologised for my very insufficient command of French. Vous trouvez les mots, she replied. I have always treasured this compliment. Usually I am inarticulate in French, but just then I was indeed able to find words. We reached the end shortly before the train got to Grenoble. I helped her take her several suitcases out onto the platform. We said goodbye French style, with a kiss on each cheek. She seemed a little surprised that I made no attempt to get her contact details. We had really got on remarkably well, but it had been so perfect that I was sure anything else would just spoil it. I never saw her again, but every time I think of Le Rouge et le Noir I think of her.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Nothing can distinguish a man as a death sentence,” thought Mathilde. “It’s the only thing one can’t buy.” Julien Sorel was a young man with an audacious intellect. Such a gift can be a great resource that can be exploited for financial gain or it can be a burden that keeps a person in perpetual misery. Sorel, the hero of our story, experiences both the wonders and the loneliness that sometimes goes hand in hand with being too aware to accept fate without attempting to manipulate a better futur ”Nothing can distinguish a man as a death sentence,” thought Mathilde. “It’s the only thing one can’t buy.” Julien Sorel was a young man with an audacious intellect. Such a gift can be a great resource that can be exploited for financial gain or it can be a burden that keeps a person in perpetual misery. Sorel, the hero of our story, experiences both the wonders and the loneliness that sometimes goes hand in hand with being too aware to accept fate without attempting to manipulate a better future. He is handsome, witty, and when money is plentiful dresses in such a way as to enhance his best features. He is prideful of his talents and humbled by his modest beginnings in equal measure like two halves of the same tarnished coin. Because he comes from the lower class of French society his opportunities for advancement are limited to the church or the military. Even though he shows few signs of or inclinations towards pious behavior Julien is sent to the church. Julien is placed as a tutor in the household of Monsieur de Rênal, the mayor of Verrières. He isn’t a particularly good teacher. He’d rather be spending his time reading and daydreaming, but through guile and an exaggerated appearance of discipline he wins over the children and the parents. On a whim he decides that he must seduce the pretty Madame de Rênal as in his mind that is what a man of his nature is supposed to do. He is calculating, manipulative, hostile, and seductive and each of those characteristics are hampered by his own naiveness producing comedic results and embarrassing moments that left this reader squirming in his seat with personal memories of being equally stupid in moments of social ineptness. Those characteristics that we like the least in Julien are also the characteristics that we like the least in ourselves and leads us to identify so closely with Sorel that his triumphs and his setbacks create diverse reactions from a sheepish grin to burning shame. Madame de Rênal and her husband Madame de Rênal is swept up in the attentions of our hero and soon finds herself in circumstances she never would have expected to experience. ”Suddenly, a word frightened her: adulteress. She could see it. The worst things that the vilest debauchery could stamp on the notion of sensual love swarmed into her mind. These ideas were trying to stain the glow of the tender, divine image she had constructed, both of Julien himself and the happiness of loving him. The future was painted in ghastly colors, She saw herself as contemptible.” Julien is sent back to the seminary where he fits in about as well as a swan among ducks. ”Julien had tried in vain to make himself small and stupid, he could not be liked; he was far too different.” Luckily he comes to the attention of Father Pirard who realizes he is intelligent enough to have better uses. As enemies of both Father Pirard and Julien attempt to destroy them Stendhal, as he does through the whole book, shows that pettiness, hypocrisy, wealth, and social standing are to be found in equal measure among people of influence. Poor people are not let off the hook either as greed turns out to be such an unsavory aspect of Julien’s own father. The father that beat him and ridiculed him is quick to want to benefit from his son’s advancement. Honor is discussed in great detail throughout the book, but is revealed as a chimera when pride or money are being threatened. Julien rises with the help of Father Pirard to private secretary for Marquis de la Mole. His office is to be the library. ”A few minutes later, Julien found himself alone in a magnificent library; it was a delightful moment. So no one would come to him, excited as he was, he hid himself in a dark corner. From there, he looked out at the books’ glittering spines. ‘I could read every one of them,’ he told himself.” Whenever I walk into my own personal library, unfortunately not as grand as the Marquis’s library, I still feel the flutter in my stomach that one might experience catching a glimpse of an old lover in a train station. The books speak to me stirring up fond memories of when words become images, scents become detectable, and fictional characters become flesh and bone. I don’t foresee a tablet with a digital bookshelf eliciting the same flutter in my stomach. The tactile feeling of individual books, unique in typeface, paper, and design are an important part of the reading experience for me. Books are more than just words to me, but a form of art. Running your eye over the hills and dales of Van Gogh”s brushstrokes while looking at the actual painting is such a larger sensory experience than looking at a picture of the painting in an art book; the two experiences are incomparable. I’m afraid as tech savvy as I am in all other phases of my life I’m a Luddite when it comes to books. I love the idea that more people are reading books because of the evolution of ereaders, but for me the experience that Julien has in that library is what I want. ”He turned his lips to hers, and with his hand Called back the tangles of her wandering hair.” Bryon, Don Juan Julien meets Mademoiselle Mathilde de La Mole. He isn’t impressed. In fact he finds her annoying in so many ways. ”She’s even paler than before she went on the trip...Her hair is absolutely colorless, it’s so blonde! You could say the daylight goes right through it!...And what arrogance, when she greets people, when she just looks at them! She holds herself, she moves, like a queen!” Like a lot of things in Sorel’s life he is motivated by a grander vision than what he is capable. He has unsustainable ideas of honor ruled more by passion than any real sense of established decorum. He even defends immorality with affectionate intensity. Altamira answered. ”We no longer have genuine passions, in the nineteenth century. That’s why there’s so much boredom, here in France. We do the most incredibly cruel things, but without cruelty.” “So much the worse!” said Julien. “At the very least, crimes ought to be committed with pleasure. That’s the only good about them: How can we even begin to justify them for any other reason?” Mathilde is Julien’s ticket to finally achieve the impossible. He can bound out of the chains of his birth and achieve a social position that would be talked about for generations. The game of love that plays out is almost as comical and ridiculous as his seduction of Madame de Rênal. His present and his past collide with devastating effects that will leave you flipping the final pages as fast as your eyes and mind can comprehend the sentences. Marie-Henri Beyle AKA Stendhal I noticed with interest that there is a turning point in the book when I could tell that Stendhal began to like his own greatest creation. He lent more sympathy to the plight of Julien Sorel. He started softening the edges and letting the reader know that even when Sorel is an ass he is still a well meaning ass. Julien was certainly more innocent than those that were trying to manipulate him. It was as if in creating this character Stendhal started to understand himself through the character and maybe even started to tolerate those aspects of himself that had given him trouble throughout his life or at least look on them as youthful fallacies. Intelligence does not come wrapped with discretion or for that matter wisdom. Time is the only device that allows us to grow into our intelligence and hopefully use it to better ourselves and strengthen our communities. I came away from the novel knowing more about myself and wishing that I could meet the youthful Julien Sorel when he has some gray at his temples and a more docile tongue, but then maybe I just need to go look in the mirror. Highly recommended for all reformed smarty pants. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dolors

    The Red and the Black draws a colorful mosaic about the required hypocrisy to climb the ladder of social status in the France of the July Revolution. Chronicled by an omniscient narrator, who meets every requisite to be Stendhal himself, the reader follows the story of Julien Sorel, a young man of humble origins whose only ambition is to ascend in the social hierarchy in a world still dominated by the Machiavellian politicking of the clergy and the nobility after the downfall of the Emperor. Des The Red and the Black draws a colorful mosaic about the required hypocrisy to climb the ladder of social status in the France of the July Revolution. Chronicled by an omniscient narrator, who meets every requisite to be Stendhal himself, the reader follows the story of Julien Sorel, a young man of humble origins whose only ambition is to ascend in the social hierarchy in a world still dominated by the Machiavellian politicking of the clergy and the nobility after the downfall of the Emperor. Despised by his family because of his “extravagant” taste for reading, Julien makes of Napoleon his surrogate father and plans his future with militaristic, almost obsessive precision. The army (The Red) is no longer in fashion and so he chooses his career among the pious men of faith (The Black). First as a seminarist and then as a tutor of Latin, Julien will learn the bearing, the deferential poise and the conversational skills to achieve his so much desired goal that will lead him to Paris, the capital of sophisticated Savoir-Faire. Straddling literary naturalism and romanticism, a tragicomedy of the most entertaining nature unfolds in a quick paced prose not short of acerbic satire and wry humor, where all sort of characters are presented as caricatures of the motley social strata of the convoluted era. Liberals and monarchists, Jansenists and Jesuits, aristocrats and peasants, radicals and conservatives; with all their disparate positions and beliefs, all the characters have the common traits of nepotism and debauchery that acquire allegorical connotations in the development of Julien’s personality, which evolves ceaselessly in the course of the story. Half romantic hero, half despicable villain, Stendhal’s protagonist becomes an emblem of the author’s contempt for the gullible disposition of men. Julien’s actions in society don’t correspond to his personal views and so he passes through life in a constant performance. He treats his masters with proud dignity to hide his sense of inferiority, he falls in love with the idea of seducing women of noble descend to cover his need for validation, he conceals his vulnerabilities and cheats himself with delusions of grandeur, and so his moods fluctuate between his artificial objectives and his true feelings, cleaving him in two. Is Julien a victim or the outrageous product of his time? He certainly falls prey to the false morality that Stendhal’s denounces openly with disarming jocularity. But there is much more than that in this uncategorizable book, because underneath the superficial parody, there is a philosophical undercurrent that grows more evident in the last chapters, which appear untitled, maybe as a symbol to represent Julien’s progressive unveiling, for his fate seems to be determined by birth and not by his honest resolutions. In the blink of an eye, Stendhal flips the tone of his narration and the reader finds himself facing the paradox of a protagonist that can be either understood as an arrogant moron or as a valiant idealist. As the declared romantic I am, I lean towards the second option and choose to see Julien’s last acts as a proclamation of his rightful independence. Having dropped the masks, he can see clearly into his heart and avoid "this desert of selfishness which is called life.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    923. Le Rouge et le Noir = The Red and The Black, Stendhal Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) is a historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830. It chronicles the attempts of a provincial young man to rise socially beyond his modest upbringing through a combination of talent, hard work, deception, and hypocrisy. He ultimately allows his passions to betray him. Book I: Book I presents Julien Sorel, the ambitious son of a carpenter in the fictional village of 923. Le Rouge et le Noir = The Red and The Black, Stendhal Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) is a historical psychological novel in two volumes by Stendhal, published in 1830. It chronicles the attempts of a provincial young man to rise socially beyond his modest upbringing through a combination of talent, hard work, deception, and hypocrisy. He ultimately allows his passions to betray him. Book I: Book I presents Julien Sorel, the ambitious son of a carpenter in the fictional village of Verrières, in Franche-Comté, France. He would rather read and daydream about the glory days of Napoleon's long-disbanded army than work his father’s timber business with his brothers, who beat him for his intellectual affectations. He becomes an acolyte of the abbé Chélan, the local Catholic prelate, who later secures him a job tutoring the children of Monsieur de Rênal, the mayor of Verrières. Although he appears to be a pious, austere cleric, Julien is uninterested in the Bible beyond its literary value and how he can use memorised passages (learnt in Latin) to impress important people. He enters a love affair with Monsieur de Rênal’s wife, which ends when it is revealed to the village by her chambermaid, Elisa, who is also in love with Julien. The abbé Chélan orders Julien to a seminary in Besançon, which he finds intellectually stifling and pervaded with social cliques. The initially cynical seminary director, the abbé Pirard likes Julien and becomes his protector. Later Pirard (a Jansenist) leaves the seminary but fearing backlash against his protégé, recommends Sorel as private secretary to the diplomat Marquis de la Mole, a Catholic legitimist. Book II: Book II takes place in the years leading up to the July Revolution of 1830. During this time Julien Sorel lives in Paris as an employee of the de la Mole family. Despite his moving among high society and his intellectual talents, the family and their friends condescend to Julien for being an uncouth plebeian. Meanwhile, Julien is acutely aware of the materialism and hypocrisy that permeate the Parisian élite, and that the counter-revolutionary temper of the time renders it impossible for even well-born men of superior intellect and аеsthetic sensibility to participate in the nation's public affairs. The Marquis de la Mole takes Julien to a secret meeting, then despatches him on a dangerous mission to communicate a letter (Julien has it memorised) to the Duc d'Angouleme, who is exiled in England; however, the callow Julien is mentally distracted by an unsatisfying love affair, and thus only learns the message by rote, missing its political significance as a legitimist plot. Unwittingly, he risks his life in service to the monarchists he most opposes; to himself, he rationalises these actions as merely helping the Marquis, his employer, whom he respects. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1974 میلادی عنوان: سرخ و سیاه؛ نویسنده: استاندال؛ (نیلوفر) ادبیات مترجم: عظمی(عظما) نفیسی(عدل)؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، 1335، در 1054 ص مترجم: عبدالله توکل؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نیل، چاپ نخست 1345، چاپ سوم مرداد 1353، در دو جلد مترجم: مهدی سحابی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر مرکز، چاپ ؟؟؟ 1387، در 760 ص داستان زاده خیال نیست، از داستانی واقعی بازنویسی شده، شاید امروز آن رنگ سرخ و سیاه، برای جوانان خوانشگر این روزها، کمرنگ شده باشد، اما روزگاری از برترین کتابها بود. هنوز هم پیشنهاد میکنم بخوانیدش. استاندال از خوانشگران مشتاق روزنامه دادگاه‌ها بود: در شماره‌ های روزهای 28 تا 31 ماه دسامبر سال 1827 میلادی، گزارش محاکمه‌ ها را در این روزنامه دیدند، که آن روزها در دادگاه جنائی ایزر، یعنی در زادگاهش، جریان داشت. حادثه هائی که موجب این محاکمه شد، از این قرار است: آنتوان برته پسر خانواده ای پیشه ور، بسیار زود، به سبب تیزهوشی اش، در نظر کشیش خود ممتاز شمرده میشود. کشیش، او را در مدرسه ی علوم دینی ثبت نام میکند، اما دیری نمی‌گذرد، که به علت ضعف مِزاج از مدرسه بیرون میرود. آنوقت، معلم سرخانه ی بچه‌ های مردی به نام: «موسیو رنال» می‌شود، و کمی پس از آن، با زن صاحبخانه، روی هم میریزد، و به اصطلاح فاسق او میشود. بار دیگر به مدرسه ی علوم دینی میرود. اما اقامتش در آن مدرسه، که اینبار مدرسه ی بزرگ علوم دینی گرنوبل است، همچو اقامتش در آن مدرسه ی نخست، به درازا نمی‌کشد. آنگاه، برته، شغل تازه ای پیدا میکند، و معلم سرخانه ی «موسیو دوکوردون» میشود. اما بسیار زود معلوم میشود که با دختر صاحبخانه سر و سری دارد. از خانه موسیو دوکوردون رانده میشود، آواره میماند، و از اینکه هماره خدمتگزاری بیش نبوده است، به خشم میآید، و سوگند یاد میکند، که انتقام خود را بگیرد. در کلیسای دهکده ی زادگاه خود، هنگامی که ولی نعمت سابقش، کشیش، آیین را به جای میآورد، تیری به سوی مادام میشو، شلیک میکند. «هشدار برای ادامه ی خواش، که انتهای داستان لو خواهد رفت» در ماه دسامبر، به محکمه جنایی کشانده میشود، و دادگاه حکم مرگش را صادر میکند، و روز 23 ماه فوریه سال 1828 میلادی اعدام میشود. بیست و پنج سال داشت. چنین است داستانی که ذهن استاندال را به خود مشغول کرده بود... ا. شربیانی

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    Most people have heard of it and a lot probably have it on the shelves as part of the classics collection. Waste time no more! This is one of the rare books where the genius of the writer is tangible. It is not only exceptionally accurate and well-observed in psychological element, but an invaluable narrative of the history and politics of the post Revolution France. This book can be read and re-read throughout one's life and never fail to give a fresh perspective and a valuable lesson. Extraord Most people have heard of it and a lot probably have it on the shelves as part of the classics collection. Waste time no more! This is one of the rare books where the genius of the writer is tangible. It is not only exceptionally accurate and well-observed in psychological element, but an invaluable narrative of the history and politics of the post Revolution France. This book can be read and re-read throughout one's life and never fail to give a fresh perspective and a valuable lesson. Extraordinary in every way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Quinn Slobodian

    It's a book about the dangers of reading. The novel's characters are seduced by ideas, poetic gestures, tragic endings, narratives they might inhabit and soon find themselves enslaved to them, marching lockstep in the footprints of characters whose stories they've read. Stendhal obviously takes pleasure in his position as most recent seducer of the book's reader and he sugar-coats his narrative pills just enough that it's only later, with the feeling of slight corrosion in your stomach, that you It's a book about the dangers of reading. The novel's characters are seduced by ideas, poetic gestures, tragic endings, narratives they might inhabit and soon find themselves enslaved to them, marching lockstep in the footprints of characters whose stories they've read. Stendhal obviously takes pleasure in his position as most recent seducer of the book's reader and he sugar-coats his narrative pills just enough that it's only later, with the feeling of slight corrosion in your stomach, that you wonder about the wisdom of what you've done. Which character's glances, turns, heartbeats and feints are you doomed to re-enact now?

  7. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    I just finished watching the latest movie adaptation of Les Miserables and there is a song there about Red and Black. I got excited because both Les Miserables and this book Scarlet and Black also known as Red and Black were both written by French novelists and set in the 19th century France. So, when I heard the song being sung by those young actors in Les Miz I said so that's the other meaning of those colors! ♪♫♪Red - the blood of angry men! Black - the dark of ages past! Red - a world about to I just finished watching the latest movie adaptation of Les Miserables and there is a song there about Red and Black. I got excited because both Les Miserables and this book Scarlet and Black also known as Red and Black were both written by French novelists and set in the 19th century France. So, when I heard the song being sung by those young actors in Les Miz I said so that's the other meaning of those colors! ♪♫♪Red - the blood of angry men! Black - the dark of ages past! Red - a world about to dawn! Black - the night that ends at last!♪♫♪ ♪♫♪Red... the color of desire, black... the color of despair...♪♫♪ However, in this Stendhal book, red is the color of the army but the protagonist, the handsome and smart Julien Sorel is born too late to join the army because Napoleon is already dead and it is the time of Bourbon Restoration and his only option to be rich and great is to join the church and its color is black. However, the two novels depict a different period in the 19th century France. Red and Black is the period between Napoleonic empire and the 1830 Revolution that led to July Monarchy. On the other hand, that rebellion in Les Miserables was called June Rebellion or Paris Uprising in 1832 and was an attempt to reverse the outcome of the 1830 Revolution in Red and Black. I read and enjoyed this book even prior to seeing the movie. I already had a review in my mind for the book but when I saw the movie this evening, I got excited because it reminded me of those colors. I liked the book because it is easy to read and it has the ability to transport you to the 19th century France. I love everything about France. The book is a bildungsroman and at the same time a sociological satire. It exposes the political tension leading to the 1830 revolution particularly depicting a society that was about to change that the dying aristocracy would no longer witness. This reminded me of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina that depicts Russia at its crossroad: whether to stay traditional (monarchy and all) or adapt the western influences (that ultimately paved way to communism). I think countries about to metamorphose into something else have enough drama to serve as a backdrop for a great novel. Great book. My first Stendhal and I am looking forward to reading his other novel, The Charterhouse of Parma.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chuck LoPresti

    It's fairly easy to see why this book isn't more well-known as it was ahead of its time in 1830 and overshadowed by Flaubert, Balzac, and Hugo. And despite the fact that some consider it among the first "modern" novels it is probably a bit too dated to appeal to a more modern-focused crowd. I think I've come to a perfect period in my reading where this makes perfect sense. After Proust, Banffy and Zilahy - another read about courtly high society was a tough sell but I persevered a bit exhausted It's fairly easy to see why this book isn't more well-known as it was ahead of its time in 1830 and overshadowed by Flaubert, Balzac, and Hugo. And despite the fact that some consider it among the first "modern" novels it is probably a bit too dated to appeal to a more modern-focused crowd. I think I've come to a perfect period in my reading where this makes perfect sense. After Proust, Banffy and Zilahy - another read about courtly high society was a tough sell but I persevered a bit exhausted but wiser for my efforts. Like Banffy and Zilahy - Stendhal's work is predominately concerned with the psychological lives of socially engaged thinker/outsiders. Like Witkacy - this means infinitely more interesting and prone to emotional swings that are sometimes deadly and often sexy. I imagine this was pretty racy stuff in the 1830's as characters brush elbows as gently as the petals in the ornate gardens and meet their deaths with profoundly less subtlety. The range of human feeling is rendered with a wide palette of interactions that are executed with a fine intelligence that never condescends and tells you exactly how to feel. Who are the pious? The justified? The likeable? You'll decide but only the most overtly hapless bores are worthy of disregard. No sharp mind will be too bored - but no dullard will be engaged. As much and I enjoyed this - it was work. The prose isn't anything so difficult - but it's all very contemplative and dense. There's little alacrity in general but Stendhal has a subtle sense of humor that works much like Zilahy's Angry Angel - nothing base or cheap. The Red and the black is like a field-guide to exploiting rich women who are so bored that they are happy to be dragged to hell just to have someone do something exciting to them. Social climbing is seen as the worst sin that only results in calunmy and humiliation. As in other similar dramas - the victims are educated just enough to enter society and love-sick enough to attract rogue genius up their ladders for a dangerous liaison. This invariably leads to non-marital impregnation, social downfall and subsequently death. A scoundrel and the child of a scoundrel never occupy life together for long. Pay close attention and you will learn fairly time-tested formulas for attracting, conquering and devouring your prey if such things appeal to you. But woe to thee that doesn't have the heart and mind to benefit from their advantages - because like Witkacy made clear - it's insatiability that invites Mephistopheles. I just may never willingly read another French/Hungarian/Austrian 19-th century court drama again - and there's free beer tomorrow. Unlike Banffy and Zilahy - Stendhal rarely shares a meal or several glasses of wine with the reader. So the next time I won't not read a courtly screw and stew - I think it will be set about 900 miles to the east of Paris and people will at least dance a czardas.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mariel

    Ultimately, Stendhal's The Red and the Black almost pissed me off. If I see this book again I'm tempted to say to it, "I'm not rationally sure why you kinda pissed me off. I just know you did!" It really would have if I had cared enough about any of the people in it to be pissed off. I hate that feeling of self persuasion as inevitable, as people being trapped in mind games. It sucks but I cannot swallow the idea that there is no other outcome. I know it's satire. I kinda hate satire. I don't wa Ultimately, Stendhal's The Red and the Black almost pissed me off. If I see this book again I'm tempted to say to it, "I'm not rationally sure why you kinda pissed me off. I just know you did!" It really would have if I had cared enough about any of the people in it to be pissed off. I hate that feeling of self persuasion as inevitable, as people being trapped in mind games. It sucks but I cannot swallow the idea that there is no other outcome. I know it's satire. I kinda hate satire. I don't want to read something that the point of it is to point out how something else is wrong if it isn't going to be right itself. They COULD walk away... I had better feel more than surface-y surface if I'm going to believe otherwise. I think I was bothered because people are not mind readers. Choosing to live as a liar does not make a more honest person out of you, if you are doing so because the claim is that there's no other choice. There was something passive-aggressive about the whole thing: the "love" stories, the ambitions... Something false. My former friend went on and on about Stendhal's theories on love being a chosen journey, that no one takes that journey unless they choose to. Made me hate Stendhal a little bit more. Something about ending up in Bologne. He referenced a Garfield reference to this idea (with a Bologne joke! Yuck!). I freaking hate Garfield. Anyway, I hate that too much is taken for granted like some sweeping statement about love and honesty and ambition could be swept up in "events". Garfield can have Stendhal and lasagna. I'd rather not have excuses.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth K.

    I read this for two reasons: First, now, when I die, I can say "Why yes, I've read Stendhal." Right, I don't know who at my deathbed is going to be asking me about Stendhal, but it's one more thing to cross off my worry list. Maybe there's some sort of deathbed reckoning for book snobs that involves a Ghost of Literature Past. Then our conversation could go like this: Ghost of Literature Past: And you've read Stendhal ... ? Me: Yes, indeedy! GLP: Hmmm. Yes. Hmmm ... and it was in translation, I bel I read this for two reasons: First, now, when I die, I can say "Why yes, I've read Stendhal." Right, I don't know who at my deathbed is going to be asking me about Stendhal, but it's one more thing to cross off my worry list. Maybe there's some sort of deathbed reckoning for book snobs that involves a Ghost of Literature Past. Then our conversation could go like this: Ghost of Literature Past: And you've read Stendhal ... ? Me: Yes, indeedy! GLP: Hmmm. Yes. Hmmm ... and it was in translation, I believe? Me: Oh. Er. Yes. GLP: Hmmmmm. scribbles notes I see. The second reason is that it is one of James's favorite books. I don't do very well predicting what he will like in general, let alone what would make his list of favorite books. I'm pretty confident that if I had to read this for a class, I would hate it quite a bit. But as leisure reading, it was solidly enjoyable. The gist is we have this guy, Julien, who is from a working class family but is rather bright and wants to move up in the world. He's got a Napoleon fetish, but unfortunately for Julien, we're already firmly into the Restoration, so his best plan for upward mobility is through the church. He also finds the time to have affairs with two women of the upper class, both of which conist of "I love her! But she despises me! But if she thinks I despise her, she will love me! But if she loves me because I despise her because I love her, I will despise her! Then she will despise me because I despise her because she loves me because I despise her because she despises me because I love her, and I will love her again! Not kidding at all here. James has this great 1950s paperback copy of this book, with an intro by Clifton (Information Please!) Fadiman where he goes to great lengths to explain the significance of Stendhal's work being the first psychological novel, and then adds "no one reads Stendhal for the plot." Are you crazy? The whacked out plot is the BEST PART. It's also my impression that the book has a lot of insights about French politics which were completely wasted on me because my knowledge of this time period is somewhat scant, and I couldn't figure out if the book was taking place before or after the July Revolution. Actually, Julien gets caught up in a bit of political intrigue that very well could have been the July Revolution now that I think about it. My education in French history consisted of lots of info about Charlemagne, then there was the 100 Years War, then there was the Sun King, and then they stormed the Bastille, and then Napoleon, and then Vichy, and then they named the airport after Charles De Gaulle, which shows how history always come full circle because Charles De Gaulle and Charlemagne are both named Charles, more or less. Grade: A- Recommended: If this has been hanging around on your list of classics that you're meaning to read, definitely go for it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alice Poon

    This novel is in my view much more than a bildungsroman. Set in the Restoration Period (1814 – 1830) in France (i.e. the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy to power after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte), it is a story of the social-climbing feats and two separate love pursuits of the lowborn protagonist Julien Sorel from a keen psycho-analytical perspective, threaded through a richly textured social and political fabric with a satirical undertone. This fabric, unique in a historical sense, refl This novel is in my view much more than a bildungsroman. Set in the Restoration Period (1814 – 1830) in France (i.e. the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy to power after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte), it is a story of the social-climbing feats and two separate love pursuits of the lowborn protagonist Julien Sorel from a keen psycho-analytical perspective, threaded through a richly textured social and political fabric with a satirical undertone. This fabric, unique in a historical sense, reflects the then ongoing contentions for wealth and power, often tainted by hypocrisy, greed, corruption, sycophancy and chicanery, among the chief stakeholders in society, namely: the clergy, the pro-Bourbon aristocrats (called “legitimists”), the ministers and the provincial parvenus. Such was the order of the day for the constitutional monarchy in the Restoration Period. The embedded message of the novel is to say that there was no place in the circle of stakeholders for the plebeian class in that era. In this grain, the novel almost hints at great social discontent that was brewing and that, in reality, led to the final breakup of the Bourbon monarchy. As for the protagonist, Stendhal seems to have made him out to be more human than heroic. Like all humans, Julien Sorel naturally has his strengths and weaknesses and makes mistakes. It should not be surprising for readers to learn that he, as a person born into poverty, desires but at the same time despises the high society of his times. His incessant inner struggles with his own moral principles during his social ascent and his final choice of lover are perhaps enough to tell readers that he is ultimately a man of conscience. Stendhal is considered the creator of the psychological novel. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche referred to him as “France’s last great psychologist” in his 1886 work Beyond Good and Evil. Regarding "The Red and the Black", given the meticulous way Stendhal describes paradoxes and tensions between rational deliberations and emotional sentiments that go on in his principal characters’ hearts and minds, especially where courtship and love relationship are concerned, I would tend to agree with Nietzsche. The version that I read is a Kindle edition which was translated by C. K. Scott Montcrieff from the 1925 Bossard Editions of the text of "Le Rouge et Le Noir, Chronique du XIXe Siecle".

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    If nothing else, read Moncrieff's translation to seep yourself in the highly latinate, generally overeducated and comfortably contorted prose ('But the adroitness with the want of which we are reproaching him would have debarred the sublime impulse of seizing the sword which, at that moment, made him appear so handsome in the eyes of Mademoiselle de La Mole') -- it will do wonders for the style of your work emails. Trust me on this one. What to say about Stendhal? I think he exists halfway betwee If nothing else, read Moncrieff's translation to seep yourself in the highly latinate, generally overeducated and comfortably contorted prose ('But the adroitness with the want of which we are reproaching him would have debarred the sublime impulse of seizing the sword which, at that moment, made him appear so handsome in the eyes of Mademoiselle de La Mole') -- it will do wonders for the style of your work emails. Trust me on this one. What to say about Stendhal? I think he exists halfway between Austen and Dostoevsky. The Red and the Black is fundamentally a novel of manners concerned with class mobility and lack thereof, as with Austen, but with a healthy dose of bombast that Dostoevsky so enjoys. A great bulk of action occurs in drawing rooms and such, though not all. Stendhal lacks Austen's narrow provincialism, and the characters certainly lack the British reserve. Where Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy may achieve their final unbridled passionate consummation by holding hands, Stendhal's lovers will fornicate wildly under the cover of night with the aid of purloined ladders, sometimes each desperately trying to believe they feel what they think they should feel while their primary concern is really with who gets the better of whom. Or sometimes the love is impossibly sweet and self sacrificing, unyielding and frightfully destructive. Some time ago I heard the sixteen year old girl next door have a clandestine, tearful conversation with someone much quieter in front of our houses at two in the morning on a weekday. Overheard in brief moments of wakefulness -- 'Don't run away from me -- I'll chase you.' -- a bit of quaver in the voice, it's taking some bravery, so aware of how she's exposing herself yet finding herself proud of how the words sound. Like she's trying on a daring dress, looking at herself in the mirror, both scandalized and seduced by the effect. That's what Stendhal is all about -- that moment of discovery.

  13. 4 out of 5

    classic reverie

    When I was reading Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, I found many ideas for future reads which this was my last one left to read. I actually found my other books from the introduction of DZ but this book was mentioned in the actual book itself as well as Dicken's A Tale of Cities. What I makes this book is many of my favorite things to read about so it is quite a gem to me. It had romance, coming of age (Bildungsroman), politics, history & religion all into play. Stendhal is a pen name for author Ma When I was reading Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, I found many ideas for future reads which this was my last one left to read. I actually found my other books from the introduction of DZ but this book was mentioned in the actual book itself as well as Dicken's A Tale of Cities. What I makes this book is many of my favorite things to read about so it is quite a gem to me. It had romance, coming of age (Bildungsroman), politics, history & religion all into play. Stendhal is a pen name for author Marie-Henri Beyle a Frenchman. He wrote TRTB at the age of 47. TRTB was not widely received in 1830 & even the dedication Stendhal says "To The Happy Few" because readers of his time did not appreciate his realistic style & not until the 20th century was his genius known. This book was written in quite a tough time in France, 1830 was another revolution & then in 1848 revolution to overthrow the 1830. Stendhal satires the whole society of France which might have been quite not to the liking of the French people of the time. I find this period of history quite interesting & the more I read fiction books about this era I learn more be it from a Russian or English writer. Tolstoy's War & Peace gives the reader a taste of the Napoleonic times & which Stendhal being a Frenchman during the Russian invasion & saw the burning of Moscow & retreat. So TRTB is showing us a glimpse into Stendhal's mind. Throughout the book he puts his two cents into what the characters are doing. He was also womanizer in life so it is interesting when his main character Julien Sorrel is approached by woman instead of his being the initiator. In reviews they state that he was the romancer but my view is he is given the go to start the romance. This story is of the present day in France 1830. Napoleon has long been dead but to idolize him in many circles quite a mishap especially for young man Julien Sorrel. The main character who dreams of the glory of fighting in Napoleon times but is a peasant of a carpenter. His ambition have him single out from others who despise his lofty airs. He has a photogenic memory which helps him rise in the eyes of some. He wants to be in the army (the red) but since Napoleon's void the rise of a peasant to ranks quite impossible but he is directed to the Seminary for a church career (the black). This book feels like many mini stories into one with the Julien being the main character because it is about his life & the interactions of others to him. He has limited choices even though he has intelligence but the choices he makes which are free will are looking to a more ambitious path. There is a psychological element to it & the vast feelings of what he goes through have a reality to it even though his head is mostly in the clouds of being heroic. Stendhal shows all sides of politics to be foolish & hypocrites. Julien is not lost in this & his doubts & strengths are part of his growing to manhood. No caste or class is free from reticule nor is religion or government. I find this part so interesting how Stendhal shows no remorse in his criticism of the church & God. I also have to laugh at his thinking the 19th century a century of boredom whereas the middle ages was the ages of adventure because I find this period very as well as other centuries enthralling. The times we live in are never as interesting as times we have not lived. You have a glimpse of what the French are thinking & the story of this young man shows the sentiment. Excerpts- "The ordinary procedure of the nineteenth century is that when a powerful and noble personage encounters a man of feeling, he kills, exiles, imprisons or so humiliates him that the other, like a fool, dies of his grief." "Since Voltaire, since Two Chambers government, which is at bottom only distrust and private judgement, and instils in the hearts of people that fatal habit of want of confidence, the Church of France seems to have realised that books are its true enemies. It is heartfelt submission that is everything in its eyes. Success in studies, even in sacred studies, is suspect, and good reason." "I am here because of my name. But they hate thought in drawing-rooms. It must never rise above the level of a comic song: then it is rewarded. But the man who thinks, if he shows energy and novelty in his sallies, you call a cynic. Is not that the name that one of your judges bestowed upon Courier? You put him in prison, and Beranger also. Everything that is of any value among you, intellectually, the Congregation flings to the criminal police; and society applauds." "The republic- for every person today willing to sacrifice all to the common good, there are thousands and millions who know only their own pleasures and their vanity. One is esteemed in Paris for one's carriage, not for one's virtue" Napoleon, memorial "I should have seen the drawing-rooms of Paris are inhabited by honest people like my father, or by able rascals like these gaolbirds. They are right, the men in the drawing-rooms never rise in the morning with that poignant thought: "How am I to dine today?" And they boast of their probity! And, when summoned to a jury, they proudly condemn the man who has stolen a silver fork because he felt faint with hunger!" "There is no law, save when there is a statute to prevent one from doing something, on pain of punishment. Before the statue, there is nothing natural save the strength of the loin, or the wants of the creature? who suffers from hunger, or cold; in a word, necessity.." "Where is Truth? In religion... Yes," he added with a bitter smile of the most intense scorn, " in the mouths of Maslons, the Frilairs, "

  14. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Oh, nineteenth century! Not counting the subtitle—'A Chronicle of the 19th Century' (which I didn’t know of until just now: it’s not on the cover or the title page of either copy of the book I have on hand)—I count eight mentions of the phrase ‘nineteenth century’ by the omniscient narrator, of which two are apostrophes, including the quote above, which is from one of the later chapters. Revolution and the turmoil of change in the world has led to this lamentation, in much the same way our gener Oh, nineteenth century! Not counting the subtitle—'A Chronicle of the 19th Century' (which I didn’t know of until just now: it’s not on the cover or the title page of either copy of the book I have on hand)—I count eight mentions of the phrase ‘nineteenth century’ by the omniscient narrator, of which two are apostrophes, including the quote above, which is from one of the later chapters. Revolution and the turmoil of change in the world has led to this lamentation, in much the same way our generation has lamented and continues to lament the condition of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries: e.g., its treatment of women; the suppression of the spirited by the powerful; the state of marriage; the hypocrisy and lack of empathy at all levels. Once again, there is nothing new in the world. The prose is engaging and moves quickly (though the typos and formatting mistakes of my almost-free Kindle copy, frustratingly, did get in my way quite a bit). I especially enjoyed the sarcasm of the authorial interludes and the ingenious tying-together of threads and characters as the work reached its end. The book was nothing like I’d expected. I had a vague notion it would be a dry, perhaps violent, political read. It's neither dry nor violent, except for the main character’s violent emotions; and it is intentionally, and entertainingly, farcical at times (i.e., the bedroom scenes). It is political, but its focus is on the personal (including the psychology of those personalities) within that dynamic. Overall, it’s an uneven read; ultimately, it's a fascinating one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris_P

    I don't normally give up books. Yet, Stendhal's The Red and The Black somehow failed to make me want to finish it if only out of curiosity about what happens in the end. I get why it's considered a classic and the author's irony is certainly smart and well used, but the characters are too absurd for my taste and the prose too shallow. I could neither relate to any character in the book, nor justify their thoughts and actions which were constantly contradicting one another. I know that was part o I don't normally give up books. Yet, Stendhal's The Red and The Black somehow failed to make me want to finish it if only out of curiosity about what happens in the end. I get why it's considered a classic and the author's irony is certainly smart and well used, but the characters are too absurd for my taste and the prose too shallow. I could neither relate to any character in the book, nor justify their thoughts and actions which were constantly contradicting one another. I know that was part of the book's point but it was also the reason I never connected and, as a result, got tired. I really tried and I really wanted to like this, but 100 pages before the end, I admit my defeat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    TheSkepticalReader

    What makes this novel a masterpiece is our friend Julien. Not a very likable fellow, I must admit, but a fantastically written one. He’s incredibly flawed and that’s what makes him so utterly human. He constantly makes horrible mistakes, trips over himself, is mostly always way in over his head, but all of that just makes him more complex, and thus more interesting.

  17. 5 out of 5

    [P]

    When I was at university my best friend and I would regularly write to each other as, for the first time, we were at different ends of the country. These letters [yes, letters – we were not being pretentious; neither of us could afford a computer as kids and so didn’t know how to use email until later] would usually contain details of any, uh, girl-related activity, music recommendations and book recommendations. Parts of these letters have stayed with me – certain relationships [one in particul When I was at university my best friend and I would regularly write to each other as, for the first time, we were at different ends of the country. These letters [yes, letters – we were not being pretentious; neither of us could afford a computer as kids and so didn’t know how to use email until later] would usually contain details of any, uh, girl-related activity, music recommendations and book recommendations. Parts of these letters have stayed with me – certain relationships [one in particular with a girl called Julie; my mate had issues with Wayne, her ex], certain records he urged on me and which I bought as soon as I was able, and certain books I sought out from the library. One of the books he once recommended was a French novel, about a young man trying to make his way in the world. I replied to my friend that it sounded interesting, or something of that sort, and a week later a package, rather than the expected letter, arrived. Inside was Le Rouge et la Noir by Stendhal. As I opened the book I noticed that my friend had written something on the reverse of the cover. “Julien Sorel is you!” it said. What did he mean by that? Well, first of all, to call me, at that time, an arrogant boy with a chip on my shoulder about my upbringing is probably right on the money. Furthermore, I must admit, that I was, shall we say, a bit of a cad, and that, more specifically, I approached my relations with women almost as though they were a test of my daring or courage. I was, then, regularly getting myself embroiled in ridiculous situations, things like seeing how many girlfriends I could manage at the same time; or sleeping with my friend’s girlfriend, in the same halls of residence in which he also lived, only a couple of rooms away in fact, so that I had to hotfoot it out of there in the early hours of the morning, hoping that he wouldn’t be on the corridor and catch me. I also got up to various sordid things in photobooths, on trains and at concerts, and so on. Now, before anyone starts spamming me with negative comments, I am fully aware that this was not admirable, nor recommendable, behaviour; but, yes, it is fair to say that I was a little like Julien Sorel. Julien is the poor son of a carpenter, who has ambitions to be a priest; he is, on the surface at least, a sensitive, bookish sort. In the early stages of the novel one might think that The Red and The Black is going to be a French version of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, a book that will focus on the exploits of a generally good boy as he struggles to better himself. However, when Julien moves in with the de Renal’s, in the capacity of tutor to their children, it quickly becomes clear that he is a rather haughty and self-obsessed sort, who considers the world something to bring under his heel, and often sees and uses people dispassionately. This dispassionate approach is particularly interesting in relation to the lady of the house, Louise de Renal, with whom he starts an affair. Julien, whose hero is Napoleon, conducts this relationship as though undertaking a military campaign. He makes notes for himself, writes plans; he doesn’t behave intuitively, or act on passionate impulse, but, rather, does what he thinks he ought to do in order to win the mayor’s wife, making bolder and bolder plays seemingly as a way of finding out what exactly he can get away with. Crucially, he doesn’t really want the woman, but thinks it fitting that he have her, and enjoys the idea that a rich lady will fall for the likes of him; it is, for him, the winning that counts, he has no great interest in drinking the victory champagne. As suggested in my opening paragraphs, Julien, just like my good self, is particularly sensitive regarding his background; and this colours the way that he sees the world. He appears to believe that everyone undervalues him, or disdains him, and so, in a kind of retaliation, or boon to his ego, he wants to conquer them. “I ought to keep a diary of this siege, he said to himself on returning to the hotel; otherwise I will lose track of my assaults.” Madame de Renal, on the other hand, genuinely loves Julien, although it is suggested that she loves him more for what he is not than what he is. I found her a fascinating character, both in terms of her personality and psychology and what she says about Stendhal as a writer. She is considered in Verrieres to be a chaste, proud and high-minded woman, who will not succumb to flirtation, having spurned the advances of Valenod. However, Stendhal portrays her as essentially artless; she is a woman who does not consider herself superior to men, but, rather, thinking them coarse and dull, she has no interest in them. There’s a really nice insight when it is said that she doesn’t find her husband boring simply because she finds other men more boring than him. I loved that; a really clever, subtle distinction. She falls for Julien, then, because he is not a man; he is, at seventeen, literally a boy; indeed, when she first sees him she likens him to, even suspects him of being, a girl dressed as a boy, and notes his fine pale complexion. Once she gets to know him a little, he also gives the impression of being cultured and well-read and in touch with his own finer feelings. Everything he is, her husband, and other provincial men, are not. In the hands of many writers Louise de Renal would be unbearable. Dickens’ work features a number of these inexperienced, otherworldy women, and readers generally want to lynch them. Yet, while she does occasionally irritate, for the most part I found Madame thoroughly endearing. And this is because Stendhal doesn’t really judge his characters, or only in a gently satirical way, or try and tell you what to think of them; he allows them to breathe, and doesn’t make them ‘a type’ of one extreme or another. Louise, for example, is an adulteress, who adores her lover more than her own children, which is not particularly admirable, of course. Yet she is also sympathetic, primarily because she is clumsily dealing with the novel state of being in love, and because her husband is a boor. She is strangely noble, because her feelings are pure, but ignoble in her actions. Likewise, she is artless, but not dim; she is both strong and weak…she is, as much can be the case with any fictional character, like a real person. While Book One is a pretty standard, but very enjoyable, tale of a cheating milf and her young lover, featuring much roguery and melodrama, the second, which involves Julien’s relationship with Mathilde de La Mole, is something else entirely. Of course, it is different on the most literal, basic level, in that Mathilde is a younger woman, similar in age to Julien, and she is not married, but this is obviously not what makes Book Two so extraordinary. I was once in a relationship that simply would not settle down, would not work; it was, I think I have said elsewhere, an Israeli-Palestinian type deal. Anyway, after some time spent needling each other, my ex-girlfriend one day said to me, “we both want the power in the relationship; we’re too proud and bloody-minded to allow ourselves to submit, even for a moment, to the other. And so we are constantly trying to make the other submissive.” Or words to that effect. And I think she was right. What is so startling about Julien and Mathilde’s relationship is that it is just like this so modern a conflict. They are equals – not socially, but intellectually and emotionally – and they are both too proud to give in to the other; so they spend much of their time antagonising each other, butting heads; yes, they will occasionally call a truce, and so come together, but one or both will regret it almost immediately afterwards. The thing is, love can only flourish if one relinquishes one’s ego, one’s absolute power over oneself. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that, once again, Mathilde esteems Julien for what he is not, rather than what he is; he is not like the tiresome, predictable suitors she has previously attracted; she sees danger in him and reckless passion. None of this, however, is the novel’s real selling point; I was very impressed by much of what Stendhal pulls off in The Red and The Black but there is one thing about it that had me in awe. Andre Gide said that the book was far ahead of its time, and Friedrich Nietzsche spoke glowingly of the Frenchman’s psychology, but neither, in my opinion, quite goes far enough in their praise. Ahead of its time? Reading it you’d think Sendhal had a DeLorean. The first psychological novel? It’s as though Henry James had looked at Dumas’ body of work and thought ‘I can do that – rascals, heroism, cheating women – a piece of piss!’ And, lo, he did do it, furnishing the adventure story with unrelenting, complex introspection. In all seriousness, I couldn’t believe what I was reading: there are pages and pages given over to the characters’ thought processes, so much so that for much of the second half there’s hardly any plot at all. For example, there’s a chapter in my translation called Dialogue With a Master, most of which is dedicated to de Renal’s interior monologue concerning his suspicions about Julien and his wife. Moreover, Mathilde’s presence in the text is almost entirely in her head and Julien’s. And this book was published in 1830! Truly, if Virginia Woolf is to be called a modernist, then what is Stendhal?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary Inbinder

    The Red and The Black is a modern tragedy about the rise and fall of its antihero, Julien Sorel, a proud ambitious young man with a chip on his shoulder. Julien is a provincial peasant who resents those above him and despises those below. He pursues wealth, power and women with a volatile admixture of ruthless calculation, audacity and reckless ardor. Set during the short reign (1824-1830) of the reactionary ultra-royalist Charles X, the novel portrays the hypocrisy and corruption of a society o The Red and The Black is a modern tragedy about the rise and fall of its antihero, Julien Sorel, a proud ambitious young man with a chip on his shoulder. Julien is a provincial peasant who resents those above him and despises those below. He pursues wealth, power and women with a volatile admixture of ruthless calculation, audacity and reckless ardor. Set during the short reign (1824-1830) of the reactionary ultra-royalist Charles X, the novel portrays the hypocrisy and corruption of a society on the brink of revolution while exposing the harsh realities of early 19th century French life and the dark side of Romanticism.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    First published in 1830, The Red and the Black is the bildungsroman of Julien Sorel, an intelligent and ambitious young man from a working class family in a rural area of France. Highly romantic, Julien admires Napoleon Bonaparte and has dreamed of a military career: the "Black" in the title represents the colour of the military uniform. However, a distinguished military career is not something a young man of his class can aspire to and Julien turns his attention to the Church: the uniform of w First published in 1830, The Red and the Black is the bildungsroman of Julien Sorel, an intelligent and ambitious young man from a working class family in a rural area of France. Highly romantic, Julien admires Napoleon Bonaparte and has dreamed of a military career: the "Black" in the title represents the colour of the military uniform. However, a distinguished military career is not something a young man of his class can aspire to and Julien turns his attention to the Church: the uniform of which is represented by the "Red" of the title. In addition to being a psychological portrait of Julien, the novel also satirises French society under the Bourbon Restoration, in particular the upper classes and the Church. I listened to a French audibook edition of the novel, downloaded at no cost from www.literatureaudio.com. The narrator was competent, although not inspirational. However, listening to the book was still preferable to reading, because it forced me to understand unfamiliar words in context rather than interupt the story to check such words in the dictionary. I wish that I'd enjoyed the novel more than I actually did. It certainly has its strengths. In particular, the concentration on Julien's psychology gives the novel a more modern feel than any English language novel of the same period with which I am familiar. The political and social context of the novel is also interesting, although my lack of knowledge about that period of French history put me at something of a disadvantage. However, in spite of the novel's strengths, I did not warm to the characters. I don't need to like the characters in a novel in order to like the novel itself. But I do want to feel strongly about them. Julien is intelligent, manipulative, selfish, egotistical and immature. I didn't like him, but I also didn't feel strongly enough about him to dislike him. I probably didn't even understand him as well as I should have, because I struggled to comprehend how two very different women could fall passionately in love with him. I didn't warm to the female characters either: one is naive but should have known better. The other is manipulated into falling in love with Julien by a variation on the "treat them mean and keep them keen" principle. She also should should have known better. I also didn't feel strongly about these characters either. Towards the end of the novel I started caring more about Julien's fate and about Stendhal's views on French society, but still not enough to lift the novel into four or five star territory. Overall, I'm very glad I listened to the audiobook. Until tackling the novel as a group read for the Readers Review Group, all I knew about Stendhal was that there is a psychosomatic illness named after him. I know more about him now and I expect to read more of his work in the future. However, I don't think that the story of Julien Sorel will make it to my "must re-read" list.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    One of the greatest villains ever created, Julien Sorel leaps from Stendhal's pages and becomes unforgettable. The prototypical arriviste who has Machiavelli flowing in his veins and will stop at absolutely nothing to rise socially, the book is irresistibly dark and shows the corruption in French society following the two preceding extreme catastrophes of the Revolution-turned-Terror and Napoleon and his crushing defeat. There is no redemption here, just pure unadulterated ambition. Julien Sorel One of the greatest villains ever created, Julien Sorel leaps from Stendhal's pages and becomes unforgettable. The prototypical arriviste who has Machiavelli flowing in his veins and will stop at absolutely nothing to rise socially, the book is irresistibly dark and shows the corruption in French society following the two preceding extreme catastrophes of the Revolution-turned-Terror and Napoleon and his crushing defeat. There is no redemption here, just pure unadulterated ambition. Julien Sorel with a little makeup could be the Joker but there was no Batman here to slow him down. It is a spell-binding book written with the most splendid mastery of the French language and a classic. Another one that is unfortunately force-fed to French high-school students too young to look past the seemingly complex 19th C style prose to the depths of the darkness that Sorel represents. Perhaps, it is simply too dark for a teenager? I wasn't educated here so I don't know. I read it as an adult and was blown away. Another one I will need to reread!

  21. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    I promised myself I wouldn’t spend too long clacking out a review of this one: usually, after a frenzied Sunday of reading I like to mellow out for the last few hours, and not dissertate (apparently that’s a word!) on a lofty French classic. Plus there are a few tip-top reviews already, like this one and this one and this one, so who cares what the anaemic Scot has to say? Really? In short: loved the epigrams, didn’t mind the frequent blurring of narrator with interior narration and dialogue, an I promised myself I wouldn’t spend too long clacking out a review of this one: usually, after a frenzied Sunday of reading I like to mellow out for the last few hours, and not dissertate (apparently that’s a word!) on a lofty French classic. Plus there are a few tip-top reviews already, like this one and this one and this one, so who cares what the anaemic Scot has to say? Really? In short: loved the epigrams, didn’t mind the frequent blurring of narrator with interior narration and dialogue, and thought Julian a loveable little bastard. Sure, the persistent tuggings between affection, class, love, ambition, and so on, became unbearable, and Julian shooting his true love because she threatened his insincere love didn’t quite scan on the plot level, but who cares with prose this schizomanic? Love Stendhal.

  22. 5 out of 5

    poncho

    A word I came across while reading about The Red and The Black was irony. It came upon me like a word written maybe on Arial 10 that grew gradually into a signboard as I read forward; for I think it describes perfectly Stendhal’s style and perhaps what made me think of this oeuvre as great. Irony came presented to me as a matter of perspective; as means to present something in many ways. Such is the way with Stendhal’s characters in The Red and The Black: the author plays with them and maybe eve A word I came across while reading about The Red and The Black was irony. It came upon me like a word written maybe on Arial 10 that grew gradually into a signboard as I read forward; for I think it describes perfectly Stendhal’s style and perhaps what made me think of this oeuvre as great. Irony came presented to me as a matter of perspective; as means to present something in many ways. Such is the way with Stendhal’s characters in The Red and The Black: the author plays with them and maybe even with the reader. Their manners are presented in a particular way and then as we are let in into their minds we see how different things are and how significantly differing they think of each other; one sees red, the other sees black, while the reader gets to see that what they think is red or black is actually a (respectively) coloured veil cast upon reality. Briefly put: we are aware of the irony. Perspective might then be linked to some extent to irony. In fact, an example is Julian himself. If you haven’t read the book yet or remember the time when you hadn’t read it yet but having already read some reviews, you may well find yourself already hating this anti-hero. I did. However, as the story began, I thought “How could I think so badly of such an interesting — maybe even charming — character?” How ironic indeed is to start sympathising with someone the reader was supposed to find despicable, with someone who isn’t exactly a villain but rather a charming young man fond of reading — like the readers themselves, that is. But as the story develops we get to meet the whole of Julian’s character: at times red, at times black. But it’s not deceit, I think, it’s irony; it’s the reader living the story. For literature is ironic, and perhaps one’s views at a first read will change after a second one. And that, I think, is part of the ironic charm of literature.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ova - Excuse My Reading

    I've read this book when was a teenager then re-read in my 20ies . Not all love stories bound to be happy! My favourite bad romance together with Madam Bovary.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Buddy-read with Kris Dear Desert Island Book List, I'm writing to inform you that, in a week or two, you will have a new member. The name is Stendhal. His novel is The Red and the Black. He's a bit of a ruffian, rather pessimistic fellow, too. But be congenial. He's much like the rest of you. His heart is too big. That, and social injustice, make him cantankerous. But he only has the best for humanity in mind. He's a portly fellow, so please prepare a double strength hammock for his many pages. A Buddy-read with Kris Dear Desert Island Book List, I'm writing to inform you that, in a week or two, you will have a new member. The name is Stendhal. His novel is The Red and the Black. He's a bit of a ruffian, rather pessimistic fellow, too. But be congenial. He's much like the rest of you. His heart is too big. That, and social injustice, make him cantankerous. But he only has the best for humanity in mind. He's a portly fellow, so please prepare a double strength hammock for his many pages. And please prepare several dampened handkerchiefs. I have a feeling he will need to mop his brow from time to time; he has a tendency to get worked up. If you would, could you see that the space beside Bonfire of the Vanities is available? I think Stendhal and Monsieur Wolfe will have much to discuss. Yours, Mark McKee. ₣ ₣ ₣ B.S. Johnson - Christie Malry's Own Double Entry Tom Wolfe - The Bonfire of the Vanities Jean Paul Sartre - The Wall (Intimacy) and Other Stories Larry David / Jerry Seinfeld - The Seinfeld Scripts: The First and Second Seasons Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina Albert Camus - The Stranger J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye A banging. A rap-tap-tapping as a carpenter atop a rickety ladder bangs nails into a wooden crosspiece. Below, a wooden plaque rests against one leg of the ladder. There are words on the plaque. They read: Things The Red and the Black reminds me of. ₣ ₣ ₣ An Amazon reviewer who cites this novel as a favorite claims the Raffel translation is too modern. That one doesn't feel one is in early nineteenth century France. I have to disagree. Each time I read a chapter I felt enveloped in both the bustling city of Paris and the docile countryside of Verrières. It is true, from further reading, that Raffel may've streamlined Stendhal's sometimes turgid prose. Normally I would not be a fan of this, preferring to read the story as the author intended. But Raffel's ear for sentence structure is phenomenal. Though I loved the story, characters, setting, the prose alone was a pleasure to read. There are one or two instances when scenes verge on the redundant. If I were reading this is an older translation I think these scenes would have been enough to drop the rating a star. But I was so caught up in the sentences, their perfect architecture, that the scenes flowed and I could have read redundancy after redundancy with very few qualms. ₣ ₣ ₣ It's hard to say what was most entertaining about The Red and the Black. There's something for everyone. Romance, melodrama (both soap opera and regular opera), war, intrigue, politics, class disputes, existential crises, comedy, satire, religion. In some ways, I can see why the Amazon reviewer felt the he was reading something too modern. But it was the novel, not the translation. The ideas and experiences are timeless. Much of what happens is still taking place, right this second. At times, you do forget that this is 1820s France because the themes and the characters' concerns are as true now as they were then. Sometimes Julien Sorrel, the main character, was a twit, but he was a twit in the same way that Levin from Anna Karenina was a twit. They are both very self-absorbed, always looking out for their own best interest. (view spoiler)[But in Julien, I feel by the end of the novel he had seen the error of his ways. With Levin, I'm not so sure. (hide spoiler)] The primary female characters are also very modern. At first, meeting Madam de Renal, I wasn't sure what Stendhal was going for. Was he using her as a foil to Julien's deceit? A ray of unadulterated goodness for Julien to sully? In authorial asides, not unlike those seen in B.S. Johnson's Christie Malry's Own Double Entry, Stendhal pokes fun of Madam de Renal's naivete. But, for her perpetual goodness no matter what she became embroiled in, she became my favorite character in the novel. At one point the following lines appears: “Ah, Sir, a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.” In presenting this novel, Stendhal more than lived up to the task of mirror-bearer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mεδ Rεδħα

    Son of carpenter, Julien Sorel is too sensitive and too ambitious to follow the family career in the sawmill of a small provincial town. In secret, he dreams of an ascent similar to that of Napoleon Bonaparte. Julien finds a place of preceptor in the mayor's house, Monsieur de Renal, and establishes a forbidden relationship with his wife. Until the end, Julien Sorel will see his ambitions thwarted by his feelings, which will lead to his loss.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    On completion: No, I did not like this book. I disliked the intertwining of its two central themes, one being a criticism of French Bourbon society after the fall of Napoleon and the crazy, unbelievable love affairs. The writing becomes more and more absurd the further you progress into the novel. The language is old-fashioned, formal, complicated and wordy. I was bugged to no end by the excessive use of etcetera and etcetera over and over again. Perhaps that was a translation problem? I am not s On completion: No, I did not like this book. I disliked the intertwining of its two central themes, one being a criticism of French Bourbon society after the fall of Napoleon and the crazy, unbelievable love affairs. The writing becomes more and more absurd the further you progress into the novel. The language is old-fashioned, formal, complicated and wordy. I was bugged to no end by the excessive use of etcetera and etcetera over and over again. Perhaps that was a translation problem? I am not sure. The book is extremely slow, even if it does pick speed as it nears the end only to fall again to turtle velocity at the conclusion. This is a book of satire and by the end the author's "message" has been pounded into you. Events become absurdly ridiculous. I preferred the more subtle humor at the beginning. The question is - did I ever really laugh? No. I must repeat my earlier statement found below: if this is a book that is supposed to offer a psychological study of characters, why are my feelings toward Julien, the main character, only lukewarm? The famed actor Bill Homewood narrated the audiobook I listened to. The French pronunciation was fine but I disliked his added dramatics, even if perhaps he was merely exaggerating what the author intended to be exaggerated. So I did not enjoy the humor, or the wordy writing, or the incredible romances. I will neither be listening to Homewood again nor reading more books by Stendhal. **************************************** Two-thirds through the audiobook: This is v-e-r-y slow. Be prepared for a multitude of pontificating old men. The language is old-fashioned and formal; it was written in 1830 and is concerned with the upper-classes of French society after the defeat of Napoleon. What is important above all else is your class. Will Julien Sorel be able to escape his class? He is intelligent. He is ambitious. And then there are scandalous love affairs....involving not only Julien but an older woman who really ought to know better because she at least has the experience of age! More importantly, the author's lines do not make me feel either Julien's or her passion. I do not empathize with any character. I do not dislike Julien, but I dislike what he is aspiring to. In addition, if this is a book that is supposed to offer a psychological study of characters why are my feelings toward Julien only lukewarm? I am not done, and I will continue, but..... Keep in mind when you look at the rating that MANY people close the book before completion and thus do not rate it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Lessons learned: don't sleep with other people's wives, and don't fuck with the class system. Stendhal manages to conflate the two rather elegantly in the social maneuverings of the novel's hero, Julien Sorel. His romantic intrigues are immediately political as well as sensual, encapsulating a good deal of the contemporaneous upheavals in French government, as well as addressing more universal aspects of social tension and class psychology and, of course, the eternal divergence of love and lust. Lessons learned: don't sleep with other people's wives, and don't fuck with the class system. Stendhal manages to conflate the two rather elegantly in the social maneuverings of the novel's hero, Julien Sorel. His romantic intrigues are immediately political as well as sensual, encapsulating a good deal of the contemporaneous upheavals in French government, as well as addressing more universal aspects of social tension and class psychology and, of course, the eternal divergence of love and lust. Reflecting on this novel over ten years after I first read it, the most appropriate description I can come up with is 'complete'. This probably comes to mind only now that my mind has been filled with so much late-modern and post-modern literature which, in its own way, is complete by being incomplete. Not so with Stendhal, from whom we may ask for nothing beyond what is given in his work, precisely because there is nothing else we might desire. It is akin to an early Cezanne, before his eyesight really started to go. In this way, it is exemplary of a lot of the literature of the era not only in France, but, to a significant extent, that of England and Russia as well. I'm not sure I would have the literary appetite for this kind of novel right now, so I'm glad I read it when I did. While I truly admire the skill with which this novel was crafted, one can definitely see where the novel, as a literary form, hit the proverbial wall. These days I might consider such 'completeness' rather oppressive, and it's no wonder that after a hundred years of this, the moderns emerged to begin eroding this wall.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melody

    I don’t like to finish a book by counting the number of pages left to go. But that’s what I found myself doing with The Red and the Black. Wondering, “when the hell is this going to end” and wishing that Julian would just die already. The first half of the copy of the book I checked out of the library included the penciled notes from someone who felt that even though the book wasn’t THEIR personal copy, they had the right (or probably, the need) to write things such as the definition of “Fie!” ( I don’t like to finish a book by counting the number of pages left to go. But that’s what I found myself doing with The Red and the Black. Wondering, “when the hell is this going to end” and wishing that Julian would just die already. The first half of the copy of the book I checked out of the library included the penciled notes from someone who felt that even though the book wasn’t THEIR personal copy, they had the right (or probably, the need) to write things such as the definition of “Fie!” (expression used to express wild disgust, disapprobation, annoyance); “Wretch! (a person of despicable or base character); faldstool (chair used by Prelate when officiating in a church away from his throne). They also made these sorts of comments in the margin: When Julian and the mother of the children he is tutoring (Madame de Rênal) are in her bedroom and she is supposedly resisting his advances (that’s when the word Wretch! was used), the previous library patron wrote in all caps, SEX. It floated around at least 4 times in the margins as we read about Julian and Madame de Rênal in her bedroom alone, and even though we didn’t get any graphic details, it was pretty clear what was going on – and if it wasn’t clear you could just refer to the helpful little notes provided by this former reader who liked to read with her pencil in hand. Another comment appeared when the author referred to Julian as “extremely wretched" My friend (and I consider this former reader a friend) wrote: “J. for real!”. So the note taking reader would make little observations throughout the book and just write them out there for you. Instead of reviewing the book, I’d rather just tell you more about the notes I found throughout the novel, but that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing – and you probably won’t read this copy of the book anyway – so you wouldn’t have the benefit of these amusing and sometimes helpful little notes – but even more noteworthy is that the notes stop before Volume I is complete. And I’m assuming this previous reader stopped reading the book too – because there is as much need for little notes in the second volume as the first. I’m just assuming that she (and I feel like I can call this reader a she) just got plain tired of the damn book and quit. But I didn’t quit (although I did get tired of it). I read while Julian went to the seminary and met up with this abbé or that Perfect and then ended up at The Hotel de la Mole and first he really, really didn’t like the Mademoiselle de La Mole (Mathilde) because she looked rather masculine and she was arrogant and she had rather colourless hair. And then suddenly he loved her more than the moon and the stars. And Mathilde would be having these same thoughts about Julian – first she loved him, then she loathed him – then back to love (usually when she was convinced that he didn’t love her) and finally, I’m pretty sure they have sex – even though there were no helpful little notes in the margin – because she announces later that she is pregnant. I think the book is a satire about French society and the church and about the silly class system. I did find myself amused at some of the writing – and not just the observations of my reading friend (who abandoned me half-way through). The end of the book has a note from Stendhal “To the Happy Few”. To the happy few who finished the book? Or who understood what he was really trying to say? Or to those few who were wealthy? I’m not sure. I was just happy I was finished.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    I always feel guilty when I dislike a classic, like I’m just too rudimentary to understand its brilliance. Then I read books like this, hate them, and remember that not every person will connect with every other person, and that every author is also a person, and some people just don’t jive. For example. Stendhal and I? We don’t think the same. We don’t think the same at all. Was I supposed to hate Julien Sorel? Because I did, but I came away feeling uncertain as to whether or not I was intended I always feel guilty when I dislike a classic, like I’m just too rudimentary to understand its brilliance. Then I read books like this, hate them, and remember that not every person will connect with every other person, and that every author is also a person, and some people just don’t jive. For example. Stendhal and I? We don’t think the same. We don’t think the same at all. Was I supposed to hate Julien Sorel? Because I did, but I came away feeling uncertain as to whether or not I was intended to. I think I was supposed to be amused by the blunderings of, but at heart also relate to, Julien. Need I say it? I didn’t. Because, honestly, he makes me angry enough to strangle his skinny ass with my bare hands. This… pseudo-intellectual, pointlessly and directionlessly cynical, self-unaware, unreflective, self-centered, myopic, petty, and destructively indecisive thing is the commonest of common. And I can get behind an anti-hero if they’re gripping. Fuck, all my favourite characters are fascinating anti-heros. But Julien Sorel isn’t just unintentionally vile and nauseatingly narrow-minded. He’s boringly, dullishly so. He’s totally predictable in his blind stupidity, and I don’t see the point in delving into such a mind, at extreme depth, for seven hundred pages.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    There is a great set-piece where "our hero" Julien Sorel is seen among the clergy taking part in a dazzling spectacle to impress the lower classes of the French countryside with their power. Once a peasant himself he continues to move up the corporate ladder by having no firm convictions whatsoever. This roving spectacle produces one of Stendhal's many great lines: "A day like that undoes the work of a hundred issues of the Jacobin press." It is this aspect I enjoyed the most, the blending in of There is a great set-piece where "our hero" Julien Sorel is seen among the clergy taking part in a dazzling spectacle to impress the lower classes of the French countryside with their power. Once a peasant himself he continues to move up the corporate ladder by having no firm convictions whatsoever. This roving spectacle produces one of Stendhal's many great lines: "A day like that undoes the work of a hundred issues of the Jacobin press." It is this aspect I enjoyed the most, the blending in of French history which feels real because it is real - it is what I have been reading of the French past, and in novels like these, written by a person of that generation, you get French history and culture that escapes the history books as it did the people of the novelist's generation. This is where the novel as a genre reigns supreme. Love, worldly and eternal, is at the center of the novel and occasionally Stendhal allows genuinely tender feelings to emerge to let us know they are possible (very much unlike Proust in that regard). But since we are dealing with the ambitious middle to upper classes, we get a lot of wrangling of the emotions, hysteria, whimsies, second-guesses, reconciliations, midnight trysts, ladders hanging out bedroom windows. The rules of this realm which insists on politeness on the lower end and aristocratic disdain on the upper has only this one hope, love that would fight against "the natural order of things." The lead character has one thing going for him: "Anyone with a sensitive nature sees straight through (the rules, the pretension)." The people around him mistake this sensitivity for authenticity. It comes as a relief to Sorel that he's able to get by ("but how do they not see straight through me too?") "In Paris, they are considerate enough not to laugh at you to your face, but you are always a stranger." The society is insincere, from top to bottom, since everyone is on the move. I'm not really sure you can blame this one on the snobs though. Like all great novelists since 1789 up until neoliberalism took over this generation, Stendhal's target is the bourgeoisie and their middle class admirers. But like all of us he has no idea what to do with them either other than to hold one's nose, cough up the environment and pray. Eventually Sorel makes it to the highest levels of society, embosomed within the nobility. His employer M. de la Mole (great name) makes an eye-popping speech among his brethren similar to Romney in 2012 that basically states "we could give a lick about how the other half lives". Or more specifically: "It's war to the death between freedom of the press and our existence as gentlemen." It's a significant moment because Sorel should really be one of these hot-headed young men and women leading the next revolution, writing for that annoying press, among other activities. But somehow he has managed to end up where all these hotheads would love to be - within the halls of power, making good cake, having pretty aristocrats drop their disdain for a moment and throw themselves at him. His employer's speech of elitism causes him zero distress. Is he truly a man of God on a mission? Or is he a totally empty vessel? That's a question to think about once Stendhal gets done with you. On a side note, Alexis de Tocqueville is one of my gods, a much more penetrating thinker than Marx on the kind of world we live in. His intellectual outlook was forged in the climate of ambition as detailed by Stendhal in this novel, the years following Napoleon's banishment to the "glorious days" of 1830. This novel however couldn't be any more contemporary with its depiction of our democratic world, the one where hopefulness and shabbiness are fatefully intertwined.

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