Modern Library Classics

The Red and the Black

Publisher: Modern Library
A Major New Translation

The Red and the Black, Stendhal’s masterpiece, is the story of Julien Sorel, a young dreamer from the provinces, fueled by Napoleonic ideals, whose desire to make his fortune sets in motion events both mesmerizing and tragic. Sorel’s quest to find himself, and the doomed love he encounters along the way, are delineated with an unprecedented psychological depth and realism. At the same time, Stendhal weaves together the social life and fraught political intrigues of post–Napoleonic France, bringing that world to unforgettable, full-color life. His portrait of Julien and early-nineteenth-century France remains an unsurpassed creation, one that brilliantly anticipates modern literature.

Neglected during its time, The Red and the Black has assumed its rightful place as one of the world’s great books, and Burton Raffel’s extraordinary new translation, coupled with an enlightening Introduction by Diane Johnson, helps it shine more brightly than ever before.


Chapter one

A Small Town

Put thousands together
Less bad,
But the cage less gay.

The little town of Verrières might be one of the prettiest in all Franche-Comté. Its white houses with their sharp-pointed roofs of red tile stretch down a hillside, every...
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1. Does it matter whether or not Stendhal’s detailed, vivid, deeply and fully realized “history” is accurate? It is brilliantly presented, massively marshaled; characters and action ring powerfully true. But is it trustworthy?

2. Julien not only surrenders quite readily to the death penalty: he...

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“[Burton Raffel’s] exciting new translation of The Red and the Black blasts Stendhal into the twenty-first century.”