poncho's Reviews > The Red and the Black

The Red and the Black by Stendhal
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2017

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.
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Reading Progress

February 15, 2017 – Shelved
February 15, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 14, 2017 – Started Reading
April 19, 2017 –
page 243
39.97% "A good book is a significant happening for me."
April 25, 2017 – Shelved as: read-in-2017
April 25, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Teresa I'll be reading this next month. And I love irony. Nice review, Poncho -- I now know what to expect.

poncho Teresa wrote: "I'll be reading this next month. And I love irony. Nice review, Poncho -- I now know what to expect."

Thanks, Teresa. I've seen you enjoy reading Jane Austen and in this edition's introduction, Roger Gard mentions an unaware resemblance between both authors — which I think is accurate — so you might actually enjoy Stendhal too!

Teresa Poncho wrote: "Thanks, Teresa. I've seen you enjoy reading Jane Austen and in this edition's i..."

Yes, I've been rereading Austen and my favorite thing about her is the irony. Oh, wow, yes, I think I will enjoy Stendhal!

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