Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Red and the Black - Stendhal

the red and the black
485 pages
completed 5/7/08

*may contain spoilers*

I am pretty sure I liked this book.

I was never sure of Julien's character. I had trouble deciding if I liked him or not. I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to like him. There were times when he was super shy and bumbling and terrified of everything, or where he was so passionate and completely in awe of someone he respected. But there were other times when he was so selfish, so arrogant, and full of so much self love and self pity. Stendhal kept referring to him as 'our hero' so I think I should like him, but I don't know.

I was never sure if he was actually in love with Madame de Renal or Mademoiselle de la Mole or just obsessed with the idea of possessing their love, the love of those in a superior class. I felt bad for both women. I didn't really like either of them, I thought they were too weak and petty and small minded, but I did feel for them. They had such passion for this man and were risking so much for his love and he could really take it or leave it. He loved them when he wanted to, not constantly.

His hypocrisy irritated me. He held the upper class with such disdain, as I think most peasant like him did in those days, yet he so much wanted to be a part of them.

I think there is probably a lot of this book that I didn't get, especially some of the French politics and Julien's psychological structure. As for the story itself, I enjoyed it.


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