The Red and the Black

By Stendhal,

Book cover of The Red and the Black

Book description

Traces the ascent and descent of a young, aspirational social climber in a harsh, monarchical country.

Julien Sorel, a handsome and aspirational man, is determined to overcome his lowly provincial upbringing. He soon realises that the only way to succeed is to follow the sophisticated code of hypocrisy that governs…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Red and the Black as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The Red and the Black (or Le Rouge et le Noir) was published by French author Stendhal in 1830. The action across the two volumes takes place from 1814 to 1830, so the 1820s are included. The title refers to the two competing ambitions of the hero, Julien Sorel, who can’t decide whether he wants the glamour and excitement of a military career (red uniform) or the moral calm of life as a priest (black cassock). I was forced to read this in French at school and hated it, but when I returned to it in English years later…

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