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The Red and the Black

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  63,545 ratings  ·  2,423 reviews
Handsome, ambitious Julien Sorel is determined to rise above his humble provincial origins. Soon realizing that success can only be achieved by adopting the subtle code of hypocrisy by which society operates, he begins to achieve advancement through deceit and self-interest. His triumphant career takes him into the heart of glamorous Parisian society, along the way conquer ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published 2002 by Penguin Classics (first published 1830)
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Alan Lindsay This book is a classic for good reason. But if you are not familiar with the state of France in the early days after Napoleon, then you're probably mi…moreThis book is a classic for good reason. But if you are not familiar with the state of France in the early days after Napoleon, then you're probably missing most of the subtext. The "plot" of any really good novel is not likely to be particularly entertaining. The development and exploration of ideas is. To understand what ideas the book is embroiled in, you may wan to spend some time reading about the book. The title gives you a start: the red (soldier, politics, the world) and the black (religion, priesthood, forsaking of the world). But even that is superficial. Rene Girard offers an interpretation of the book in Deceit, Desire and the Novel that places the interests in the realm of what he calls Mimetic Desire. Follow the path of the theme not the dull movement of Julien's love interest and you'll see why this novel deserves its reputation. If you're not yet ready to do that, put it aside and come back to it later.(less)
Jesús De la Jara Of course. But in XIX siecle it was not, but now everyone thinks Stendhal is as important like Flaubert or Balzac. I think is greaer

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Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-french
”Nothing can distinguish a man as a death sentence,” thought Mathilde. “It’s the only thing one can’t buy.”

 photo le-rouge-et-le-noir_zps083c1744.jpg

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 fu
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 923 from 1001 books) - Le Rouge et le Noir = The Red and The Black, Stendhal

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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Skeptics and believers
Recommended to Dolors by: Emilie
Shelves: dost, read-in-2015
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.
Dana Ilie
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Julien Sorel is a young man who is bound by social convention: he observes his 'betters' on the periphery of 'begrudging interaction' (his talents are needed by the upper class - but he must always remember his place). After several torrid affairs with upper class ladies he is dispatched on a secret mission does Julien begin to understand how love is often a game (jeu d'amour) that has ulterior motives that involve position and appearances. While there was much I did not understand (this period ...more
Quinn Slobodian
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
The brilliant idea of Stendhal, in this novel inspired by an act, is to have used love relationships as a paroxysmal place where personal motivations and the constraints linked to belonging to a class will express. Of course, the evolution of feelings brings in its wake most of the human passions (vanity, an instinct for domination, ambition, fear, self-forgetfulness). But moreover, it allows the author to reflect on a particular social context (in this case, the restoration).
Paul Bryant
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit, novels
(Note : there may be a few spoilerish things here, just saying)

Julien Sorel is a handsome young peasant with a freakish memory. He doesn’t like his daddy and his brothers because they beat him up all the time. Like actually, not metaphorically.


They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
But I memorised the whole of the New Testament in Latin
So I think I’m pretty cool

So he impresses some priest with his hug
Emily May
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, 2020
“Faith, I am no such fool; everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It wasn't until I read Lessing's The Golden Notebook that The Red and the Black became high up on my radar. Lessing described this book as being one which fully encapsulated what it was like to live in France under the Bourbon Restoration (1814-1830). I was curious.

What I got was the story of a poor provincial man working his way up in the worl
Alice Poon
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
[Update October 20, 2020 - I've upgraded the rating to 5 stars, as I think that would more accurately reflect my love of the book, which is on my favorites shelf.]

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
Roy Lotz
Good heavens! Is being happy, is being loved no more than that?

Few books have so totally engrossed me as this French novel written nearly two hundred years ago. Stendhal has aged very well. The novel is just fun to read: with short chapters, simple prose, and a plot that keeps the reader constantly wondering. That the novel was not widely appreciated during Stendhal’s own lifetime shows how much literary taste has changed. Whether this change has been for the better is difficult to say. But
Elizabeth K.
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006-new-reads
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
Chuck LoPresti
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
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!
lesmiserables ♪♫♪Red - the blood of angry men!
Black - the dark of ages past!
Red - a world abo
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Το Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου
"Yes, monsieur, a novel is a mirror which goes out on a highway. Sometimes it reflects the azure of the heavens, sometimes the mire of the pools of mud on the way, and the man who carries this mirror in his knapsack is forsooth to be accused by you of being immoral!

His mirror shows the mire, and you accuse the mirror! Rather accuse the main road where the mud is, or rather the inspector of roads who allows the water to accumulate and the mud to form".

The Red and the Black Translated byHorace B.
De la conquête du Moi à l'oubli de soi

Autoportrait (1646) - Johannes Gumpp

What is The Red and the Black, deep down?

What novelty is still left to unveil and disclose about this masterwork, so finely contextualised and so universal at the very same moment?

I'll deem myself a happy rogue if I get away with it stating that this is a devilishly well-wrought yarn :) That won't cut it! And still, this is the very heart of the matter for me: until you are already in the deeps, you can't decide for ce
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Dec 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fat cats
Recommended to Mariel by: house cats
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 ...more
Mar 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bitchin
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 ...more
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 Marie-
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
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 ...more

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
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Stendahl’s The Red and the Black. I noticed that it seemed to be some decades before American authors caught up to Stendahl’s style, perhaps British authors, too. Describing the life of Julien Sorel, Stendahl writes of his entrance to adulthood and elevation from being the son of a tradesman into an association with proper society. Stendahl dwells on monarchism, republicanism, religion, marriage, honor (whatever that is), the urban/rural divide, the social classes, infidelity and amoro ...more
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. ...more
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Henri-Marie Beyle, better known by his pen name Stendhal , was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology, he is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839). ...more

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