Monday, February 11, 2008

The Red and The Black

This is the story of Julien Sorel, a young man from the provinces of France who is inflamed with the passion of youth, a passion for the ideals of the Napoleonic age, but whose greatest passion is his ambition which takes him to the heights and sets in motion his tragic fall. Stendhal is able to present his narrative with unmatched, for his time, psychological depth and realism. The love affairs of Julien and the political intrigues in which he participates are spellbinding for the reader even today. This novel truly presents a "mirror" of reality and provides a challenge for the reader. The story presents a protagonist torn between his passion for the ideal of Napoleon represented by the red of the cavalry dragoons and the black of the bishops of the church. Ultimately he finds hypocrisy on all sides and turns upon one of his loves while rejecting his only true friend. This is still an exciting, even exhilarating read and truly a great book for all time.

The Red and The Black by Stendhal. Trans. by Burton Raffel. Modern Library, New York. 2003 (1830)

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