Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black, White & Red All Over, 23 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Red and the Black: A Chronicle of the Nineteenth Century (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
What we have here is a novel of three halves (to paraphrase the football pundits) - 1) poor but prodigious boy literally makes inroads into bourgeois provincial society (nudge, nudge), (2) moves up a league to the highest Parisian salons and has his way with an aristocratic girl, (3) then loses the plot and ends up, headless, back in the provinces. In all of this brouhaha, ladders into ladies' bedrooms feature prominently. The first section has a powerful erotic charge as Julien, in his capacity as a hired tutor, seduces Mme de Renal under the nose of her boorish husband, who, sadly, because he's a great creation, disappears at the end of the tale. The middle Parisian bit is boring and overlong, as the protagonists endlessly fret about 'lurve', though what it basically boils down to is 'treat em mean to keep em keen'. The final stage of the journey is where Julien goes back to the sticks and shoots Mme de Renal for reasons I do not find persuasively explained by Stendhal. Our hero then, understandably, agonises a lot about life and death as he waits for the guillotine. French society, from top to bottom, is vividly depicted; a wealth of characters engage our attention, though Julien himself is an oddly lightweight presence for all the worrying he does; and various cultural, political and religious issues are intelligently aired for those who like that sort of thing. Less of the middle half and this would have been five stars and a thumping victory for the Thierry Henry of French literature.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 May 2014 22:07:25 BDT
Sarah says:
I'm currently half-way through this book, and have now had the some major plot details revealed by your post. Really not helpful to post spoilers in a review!

In reply to an earlier post on 26 May 2014 19:04:28 BDT
Mike Collins says:
Yep, sorry, Sarah. As a classic I assumed (and assumption is the mother of all foul-ups) everyone would know the ending, as everyone seems to know Cordelia dies in King Lear, for example. I was wrong, you're right and it won't happen again.
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