Posted in Reviews

Review: The Red and the Black


Title: The Red and the Black

Author: Stendhal

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.

Rating: 2/5

I took me more than a month to finish this book and by the end I was forcing myself to read, just to finally be done with it. I gave it 2 stars, but it would be more accurate if I gave it 1.5. I know this book is an important classic and had a huge influence on other writers, but I don’t care. The only reason I’m even writing a review is because this book is part of my Classics Club challenge.

At first I was interested in the plot, but the writing style ruined it for me. It was really sentimental and melodramatic, but it didn’t make me actually feel anything. I read the croatian translation, so maybe that’s part of the problem, but even if I read it in the original language, I don’t think it would work for me.

The most interesting part of the book were quotes at the beginnings of chapters, especially the quotes from Byron’s Don Juan, that now I really really want to read. So it wasn’t a complete waste of time.


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