Saturday, December 19, 2009

Red and Black

Red and Black
By Stendhal

"Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), 1830, by Stendhal, is an historical psychological novel in two volumes, chronicling a provincial young man’s attempts to socially rise beyond his plebeian birth with a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy — yet who ultimately allows his passions to betray him."

In a nutshell
Well well well, what have we got here then. Red and black surprised me when I got my hands on it by its sheer size. Now one or two months after going through it, I must say that I had taken quite a liking to the style of writing as well as the story itself. I for one, adore books in which the characters start at the bottom of some sort of food chain or other and make their way up, but the twist that Stendhal had for Julien Sorel surprised me even more. Yes, I was surprised. If you don't read anything about what you're about to read, of course the book will surprise you if the author has that sort of intention.

The story is interesting enough as said in the wikipedia article carrying the main character through different changes in scenery in which most often than not, he did not fit. Many a supporting character paid great expense for attempting to help Sorel how to cope with his new life, but the man seemed to pay more attention to his inner ego than towards what was happening on the outside. I was left with the impression that he was thought intelligent only because he could memorize a great deal of things ( the bible in Latin... of all the useless knowledges... I'd kill for a memory like that ) and in my opinion, intelligence and memory are not one and the same.

Still, maybe I'm judging him too harshly because I don't really agree with his wishy washy way of dealing with his two important female characters, but then again books are not written to be agreed with. Or maybe his intelligence didn't shine fully because he wasn't in his usual element, but I hardly doubt that would have done him any good in the mountain forester's cabin. The other characters are well described as well, and considering the two volumes the book has, it'd be quite surprising if they weren't. The names however haven't remained in my mind and I'll not be pained to google more.

Sadly I can't find a quote so that's that for today.