The Red and the Black (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Paperback)
The Red and the Black, by Stendhal, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
After Napoleon’s defeat, the French aristocracy tried to reassert its power in a government known as the Restoration. Venal and corrupt, the Restoration fell in 1830. Later that year, Stendhal published his scathing satire of Restoration society, The Red and the Black. Its title refers to the military and the clergy, the two career paths open to young men of intelligence and ambition but no social standing.
Stendhal’s hero, Julien Sorel, is such a young man. A seminary student, he is nevertheless an admirer of Napoleon, and dreams of military glory. When he is hired to tutor the mayor’s children, he quickly seduces the mayor’s wife, then moves on to Paris where he conquers a nobleman’s daughter. Sorel comes to believe that the secret of success is to outperform the hypocrites and vicious opportunists who surround himand he’s right. But when the rich and powerful he so admires align against him, his downfall becomes unavoidable.
A master of characterization, Stendhal paints a fascinating, multi-layered portrait of Julien Sorel, who endures as one of literature’s most complex and surprisingly sympathetica would-be manipulator out of his depth in a sea of sharks.
Bruce Robbins is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress, The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below, and Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture.