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The Red and the Black (Signet classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0451517937 ISBN-10: 0451517938

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Product Details

  • Series: Signet classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451517938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451517937
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,419,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

One of the greatest nineteenth-century novels. --Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

''A work of literature that one views as difficult, or as an undertaking, demands the best-quality narration. This re-released production of Stendhal's finest work, a progenitor of the psychological novel, easily meets this requirement. The late David Case's pacing lends itself to the themes of class, ambition, and desire. His delivery makes this seemingly dusty work of literature an engrossing story and helps one understand the new ground Stendhal broke in writing it. As Case portrays the archetypal characters, he fully inhabits both their struggles and the satire of the story.'' --AudioFile --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Henri Marie Beyle, known through his writing as Stendhal, was born in Grenoble in 1783 and educated there at the École Centrale. A cousin offered him a post in the Ministry of War, and from 1800 he followed Napoleon’s campaigns in Italy, Germany, Russia and Austria. In between wars, he spent his time in Paris drawing rooms and theatres.

After the fall of Napoleon, he retired to Italy, adopted his pseudonym and started to write books on Italian painting, Haydn and Mozart, and travels in Italy. In 1821 the Austrian police expelled him from the country, and on returning to Paris he finished his book De l’amour. This was followed by Racine et Shakespeare, a defense of Romantic literature. Le Rouge et le noir was his second novel, and he also produced or began three others, including La Chartreuse de Parme and Lucien Leuwen. None of his published works was received with any great understanding during his lifetime.

Beyle was appointed Consul at Civitavecchia after the 1830 revolution, but his health deteriorated and six years later he was back in Paris and beginning a Life of Napoleon. In 1841 he was once again recalled for reasons of illness, and in the following year suffered a fatal stroke. Various autobiographical works, Journal, Souvenirs de l’egotisme and La Vie de Henri Brulard, were published later, as his fame grew.

Customer Reviews

At least what I found the most thrilling about the plot.
ytersakita
Also a very educative book - i've learned and got interested so much on the subjects of france of the french revolution and the restoration.
Amazon Customer
The main characters strike me as real, and quite complex.
Leo E. Walsh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Strangely, all of my friends who were raised outside the United States are well aware of this book--everyone raised inside has no knowledge (even people who have taken three years of french in college!). If anyone has any theories on this I'd love to know. "Red and the Black" is a terrific look into the power structure of 19th century France, the wheeling and dealing of the church and aristocracy. Depictions of drawing room socials and seminary politics feel very right (though I wouldn't know much about either, as historical fact), and have a very engaging cynical edge to it.
In addition, it is about a man who is pulled by two opposing forces: an ambition to gain power (either through the church or state; it matters little to him which), and intense passions that are in his heart. He realizes from a young age that in order to succeed in the world, he must master the art of hypocrisy. And as he reaches the age where he first begins to explore his passions, this desire for hypocrisy and conquest get horribly mixed up, leading to horrendous self-analysis on the part of the main character, followed by equally strange actions. The personality of the characters are wonderfully believable--the interactions of these people, full of all sorts of emotions and ideas, are a good study in interpersonal dynamics (in a sort of extreme case) and emotional growth. The characters are alive, they grow and learn, and their excesses of suffering and joy make this a page-turner. To sum up: a well-written, engaging work that depicts 19th century power struggles, incredibly interesting characters, and a few ideas about life to chew on as well.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Leo E. Walsh on March 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. Unlike many reviewers, I feel the book does transcend time. American people and culture today, computers and all, are a lot like those in Stendhal's 19th century France.

The main characters strike me as real, and quite complex. Julien is a typical adolescent/ young adult: Idealistic, searching and unsure of himself. To me, it is amazing to what how the world interacts with and alters his self-image. Mathilde is equally interesting. She reminds me of a flighty alternative girl, looking for a dream of simmering romance. And MME de Renal is a wonderful, believable woman, falling in love late in life, victim of the missing husband syndrome.

Like people today, Stedhal's characters are a bundle of contradictions. Is Julien a villain, an angel, a self-serving climber or a man truly in love, searching for his higher self? Aloof or loveable? Is MME de Renal a devout, moral patroness, devoted to her family, or the vilest of adulators, ready to turn her back on duty for the simmer of love? Is Mathilde submissive, or arrogant and dominant?

The answer to all questions is yes. We are all divided.

Be honest with yourself for a minute. Aren't people sometimes cruel, and sometimes kind; Sometimes, honest, sometimes mildly deceitful, telling white lies, and sometimes bold-faced liars? Since Stendhal is faithful to this, and does not give us character in black and white, he has produced a masterpiece.

One last point: You do not need a lot of historical background to understand the author's critique of society. The basic overview laid out in the introduction, and my college course in Western Civ gave me the jist of the cultural goings-on. I even found French culture around the time of Stendhal remarkably similar to our own.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Truly a great book. I don't have much to say but that it keeps you captivated and enchanted while you are reading it. (the first 3 chapters are a bit boring but from then on it storms). Julien is a truly loveable character to me. Charming in his oprtuinism and unflinching attitude towards life. He preys on life. Also a very educative book - i've learned and got interested so much on the subjects of france of the french revolution and the restoration. A must to read. mind and spirit agitating.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 12, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I think this book can be read as a reaction against romanticism, or as exemplified in the character of Julien Sorel, an example of how someone could take advantage of a still lingering romanticism. Stendhal was writing at a time when romanticism had already played itself out and so what could follow that movement. An aftermath movement. Stendhals is a cynicism that naturally follows any idealistic movement that has failed. Julien Sorel is not likeable as Fabrice, his later hero, is. Julien is nothing more than a gigolo and an especially detestable one because he preys on the emotions of others,that is his entree into society, but there is nothing romantic about Julien. He is simply playing the necessary part and that is a theme which is in all of Stendhals work. That strange indefiniteness of identity, as if we are all playing interchangeable roles. Julien works his way up in society by playing with the hearts of the wives of men in influential households but he does not get far and perhaps he doesn't really care or perhaps he does. There is a mystery as to the true nature of this low born soul that is never solved. This is Stendhals tragic hero. He is not romantic, just born to a particular time and forced perhaps to play the only cards he has to play. Charterhouse of Parma is Stendhals comedy. More fun than this work and in recent years it seems to have eclipsed Red and the Black in regards to most favored book status but it is a captivating read about a transitional moment in French society(and literature). Stendahls characters are never as complex as Stendahl himself. Reading him one is constantly wondering just what his literary statements are. Cynical he is, but with a love for drama.Read more ›
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