The Red and the Black

The Red and the Black

3.8 17
by Stendhal
     
 

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Charts the rise and fall of an ambitious young social climber in a cruel, monarchical society

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

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Overview

Charts the rise and fall of an ambitious young social climber in a cruel, monarchical society

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 conquering the gentle, married Madame de Rênal, and the haughty Mathilde. But then Julien commits an unexpected, devastating crime—and brings about his own downfall. The Red and the Black is a lively, satirical portrayal of French society after Waterloo, riddled with corruption, greed and ennui, and Julien—the cold exploiter whose Machiavellian campaign is undercut by his own emotions—is one of the most intriguing characters in European literature.

Roger Gard's fine translation remains faithful to the natural, conversational tone of the original, while his introduction elucidates the complexities of Julien's character. This edition also contains a chronology, further reading and an appendix on Stendhal's use of epigraphs.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Burton Raffel’s translations

For Balzac’s Père Goriot

“Raffel’s Père Goriot is both faithful and beautiful, and that makes it a masterpiece.” —Alain Renoir

“I predict that this translation will give Balzac’s great novel a new life for English and American readers. . . . The definitive translation for this generation.” —Peter Brooks

“[Raffel’s] translation has the vigor and elasticity of Balzac’s style, and catches with uncanny accuracy the tone of the period.” —Guy Davenport

For Cervantes’s Don Quijote

“[Raffel’s Don Quijote] recasts the original into lively English, without losing the complexity and flavor of the Spanish. . . . This Quijote flows smoothly and reads, in fact, like original prose rather than a translation.” —Adrienne Martin

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140447644
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/01/2002
Series:
Penguin Classics Series
Edition description:
Revised
Pages:
607
Sales rank:
465,773
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.74(h) x 1.08(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

 From his earliest childhood he had experienced moments of rapture. Then, he would dream with delight that he would one day encounter the beautiful women of Paris, and would compel their attention by some famous deed. Why should he not be loved by one of them as Bonaparte, while still poor, had been loved by the brilliant Mme de Beauharnais? For many years, scarcely an hour of Julien's life passed without his telling himself that Bonaparte, an obscure and penniless lieutenant, had made himself the master of the world with his sword. This idea consoled him for his sufferings, which he thought great, and redoubled his happiness when he had any.

The construction of the church and the Justice of the Peace's judgements suddenly enlightened him; and idea came to him which made him distraught for some weeks,  and seized hold of him with the overwhelming force belonging to the first idea with which a passionate nature believe itself to have been inspired.

'When Bonaparte made people talk about him, France was in danger of invasion; military talent was necessary and fashionable. Today one sees 40-year-old priests with stipends of a hundred thousand francs, that is to say, three times more than Napoleon's famous generals. They need people behind them to support them. Look at this Justice of the peace, so sensible, such a fine upstanding man until now, so established, who has dishonoured himself for fear of offending a young clergyman of thirty. It is necessary to be a priest.'

On one occasion, in the midst of this new piety, and after he had already been studying theology for two years, he was betrayed into a sudden eruption of the fire that consumed his soul. At M. Chélan's dwelling, during a dinner for the clergy to whom the good curé was presenting him as a prodigy of tuition, he found himself fervidly praising Napoleon. He bound his right arm across his chest, pretending it had been dislocated in moving a pine trunk, and carried it in this irksome position for two months. After this bodily penance, he absolved himself. This was the young man of nineteen - but so seemingly frail that one would have taken him for no more than seventeen - who, carrying his little parcel under his arm, entered the magnificent church of Verrières.

He found it sombre and solitary. To mark a festival all the church windows had been covered with crimson cloth. The sun's rays shone through to produce a dim light, most pious and imposing. Julien shivered. Alone in the church, he established himself in the pew that had the finest appearance. It bore the arms of M. de Rênal.

 On the payer desk Julien noticed a fragment of printed paper, spread out as though to be read. He directed his eyes towards it and saw:

Details of the execution and the last moments of Louis Jenrel, executed at Besancon, on the...

The paper was torn off. On the other side could be seen the first words of a line, which were: The first step.

- Who could have put this paper here? said Julien. Poor devil, he added with a sigh, his names ends like mine... and he crumpled the paper.

Leaving, Julien thought he saw blood next to the holy water stoup - it was holy water that had been spilled: the reflection from the red blinds covering the windows gave it the appearance of blood.

Eventually Julien was ashamed of his secret terror.

- Am I a coward! he said to himself, To arms!

This phrase, so often repeasted in the Surgeon-major's accounts of battles, represented the heroic for Julien. He raised himself up and walked rapidly towards M. de Rênal's house.

  In spite of these fine resolves, from the moment he saw it twenty paces away, he was seized with an overpowering timidity. The iron grille was open; to him it seemed magnificent; and it was up to him to enter in.

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Meet the Author

Henri Marie Beyle, known through his writing as Stendhal, was born in Grenoble in 1783 and educated there at the École Centrale. A cousin offered him a post in the Ministry of War, and from 1800 he followed Napoleon’s campaigns in Italy, Germany, Russia and Austria. In between wars, he spent his time in Paris drawing rooms and theatres.

After the fall of Napoleon, he retired to Italy, adopted his pseudonym and started to write books on Italian painting, Haydn and Mozart, and travels in Italy. In 1821 the Austrian police expelled him from the country, and on returning to Paris he finished his book De l’amour. This was followed by Racine et Shakespeare, a defense of Romantic literature. Le Rouge et le noir was his second novel, and he also produced or began three others, including La Chartreuse de Parme and Lucien Leuwen. None of his published works was received with any great understanding during his lifetime.

Beyle was appointed Consul at Civitavecchia after the 1830 revolution, but his health deteriorated and six years later he was back in Paris and beginning a Life of Napoleon. In 1841 he was once again recalled for reasons of illness, and in the following year suffered a fatal stroke. Various autobiographical works, Journal, Souvenirs de l’egotisme and La Vie de Henri Brulard, were published later, as his fame grew.

Roger Gard
was educated at Abbotsholme School, Derbyshire, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Before his death in 2000 he was Emeritus Reader in English at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. Among his publications are books on Henry James, Jane Austen and the teaching of fiction in schools. He also translated Alfred de Vigny’s The Servitude and Grandeur of Arms, and edited Henry James’s A Landscape Painter and Other Tales, The Jolly Corner and Other Tales and a selection of his literary criticism, The Critical Muse, for Penguin Classics.

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Red and the Black (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My book group decided to read 'The Red and the Black,' and I thought it would be fun to read it in French, side-by-side with an English translation for those spots in which my college French failed me. My first disappointment with this edition was the skimpiness of the endnotes -- a total of 12 for a 532-page book. Unless one is a scholar of French history, this is a book that is much easier to appreciate with some background on the politics of the times. I was shocked, however, by the discovery of some glaring errors in the translation. On p. 17, for instance, 'quatre-vingts' (eighty) is translated as 'ninety', while on p. 34, 'dix-neuf' (nineteen) is translated as 'eighteen.' Also, on p. 45, the translated text states that Mme. Renard is taking a walk with M. Renard, while the original French text states that she is taking a walk with M. Valenod! There are even some sentences in the French text that do not appear in the English text. Where were the proofreaders? It is quite possible that the rest of this translation is flawless, but at this point I gave up in frustration and went in search of a different translation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Such disparate souls as Richard Posner and Al Gore have named this as one of their favorite books---but you should read it anyway, as Stendhal's wit, psychology, and narrative verve make reading him unlike reading anyone else. I've not finished the new Penguin translation (much needed), and I think that the Slater translation for Oxford catches the style better; but the notes in the Penguin are interesting, as is the intro, and Gard is certainly better than was Richard Howard with his sloppy translation of The Charterhouse of Parma. No one who enjoys 19th-c. fiction should miss this book, and no one who thinks he doesn't should make up his mind before reading it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book.It made me apriciate the freedom of choice that I can practice every day. It's hard for Julien's ambition not to rub off on you. Julien is not the typical heroe he makes more mistakes it seems than he triumphs. He moves up in the world through his education and itelligence, very much the same as it is today exept in post revolution France this was an uncommon and great achievement. Julien is a complex charector who shows traits of a real human. The novel is deeply romantic. Julien will rise to the top only to be thrown down by an inevidable misfortune and a rash descision, the tragic flaw which brings about Julien's downfall. Though tragic, the ending is beutiful and unexpected. So that when you close the last page of the book, you have to just sit there and think for a while,until one word comes to mind 'wow'
jacobcohen44 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book despite being uncertain of the subject matter. It was very contemporary in many respects and the characters are great. Much of the story matches today's American push for success and dealing with all the vipers and cutthroats that kind of environment creates.
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Red the color of dispare.black the time when ages pass.red the blood of angry men. Black the color of dark nights!:) chse
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Guest More than 1 year ago
One discovers true compassion of literature after reading a piece of art such as this novel. Breathtaking in suspense of the actions the characters take.... I was truly shocked at the outcome of the book yet it was a beautiful closure. This book will have you truly feeling deep compassion in the motives and outcomes of each individual character.