Widely considered the masterpiece of the fascinating and mysterious man known as Stendahl, "The Red and the Black" is a two volume novel first published in 1830. It follows the ambitious desires of Julien Sorel, a young man raised in the French countryside who wishes to rise above his station and explore Paris and its society. Through a series of events, Julien's talent and hard work give way to deception and hypocrisy when he loses the will to believe in sincerity. Though he reaches many of his goals in Paris, Julien's calculating manner falls prey to his passions, and he commits a crime that leads to his downfall. Ultimately a flawed protagonist whose illusions are shattered in the face of a harsh reality, Stendahl allows readers to live in the minds of his characters in such a remarkable way that this work is considered as psychological as it is historical. "The Red and the Black" is satirical and prophetic for its time, and can perhaps be known as one of the first realist novels ever written.
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January 01, 2013
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