Book Review of The Red and the Black by Stendhal

Name of Book: The Red and the Black

Author: Stendhal

ISBN: 9783829069908

Publisher: Konemann

Type of book: French, 1800s post French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, peasantry, upper class, 1830

Year it was published: 1830


Handsome and ambitious, Julien Sorel is determined to rise above his humble peasant origins and make something of his life-by adopting the code of hypocrisy by which his society operates. Julien ultimately commits a crime-out of passion, principle, or insanity-that will bring about his downfall. The Red and the Black is a lively, satirical picture of French Restoration society after Waterloo, riddled with corruption, greed, and ennui. The complex, sympathetic portrayal of Julien, the cold exploiter whose Machiavellian campaign is undercut by his own emotions, makes him Stendhal's most brilliant and human creation-and one of the greatest characters in European literature.


Julian is a very cold character and the love had for Mathilde as well as Madame De Renal didn't ring true for me. For Mathilde it was incredibly calculated. I also never understood why Julian was determined to die and never tried to save himself from death. I didn't understand the 1830 thinking, didn't understand the politics or anything like that.


If a character is determined to die, then they'll die no matter what.


Third person narrative from multiple characters' points of views. In all honesty, this was a very confusing novel for me although the writing or translation was amazing. The only parts I liked were the beginning and close ending and that's it.

Author Information:

January 23, 1783 in Grenoble, France

March 23, 1842


Literature & Fiction

About this author

Henri-Marie Beyle , better known by his pen name Stendhal , was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology, he is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).


My mom bragged about this book and so forth, except she was talking about a movie not a book. I really hoped I would like this book, thus I am disappointed to give it 2 stars. The book is very verbose and in order to enjoy it I think there needs to be a great deal of familiarity with French culture and thought, as well as politics. I don't like politics in all honesty thus the novel was boring for me. The characters were also very frustrating for me, especially Julian. I couldn't understand neither his motives nor actions. I wished that there would be an honest epilogue few years later instead of few months later. The courtship was confusing and honestly there should be indexes or something for a typical courtship and so forth when it comes to France.

2 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


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