Red and Black

A Chronicle of 1830

2022
Author:

Stendhal
Translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie

A masterpiece of nineteenth-century literature in a fresh translation that fully captures the language, psychology, and social reach of Stendhal’s original

Shocking at the time of its original publication, startling in its relevance today, Stendhal’s masterpiece is a scorching social satire, a remarkably detailed portrait of a fraught moment in history and, as perhaps the first psychological novel, a brilliant precursor to modern literature at once comical and tragic, cerebral and passionate.

Fueled with a combustible mix of ambition, naivete, and Napoleonic ideals, Julien Sorel sets his sights on the heights of French society. But for the son of a provincial carpenter in post-Napoleonic France, the prospects for advancement are vanishingly narrow, the chances for glory rarer yet. After securing a toehold as a tutor to a wealthy family, Julien proceeds through a series of misadventures, illicit affairs, and lucky reversals to breach the ranks of French aristocracy—only to be undone by treasonous schemes, cynical romantic calculations, and an unexpectedly genuine and ultimately disastrous passion.

Shocking at the time of its original publication, startling in its relevance today, Stendhal’s masterpiece is a scorching social satire, a remarkably detailed portrait of a fraught moment in history and, as perhaps the first psychological novel, a brilliant precursor to modern literature at once comical and tragic, cerebral and passionate. This new translation faithfully reproduces the nimble wit, emotional depth, and social acuity of Stendhal’s text. Distinguished translator Raymond N. MacKenzie includes an extensive introduction to Stendhal’s world and time, as well as copious annotations that explain allusions and terms for the modern reader.

Stendhal, the pseudonym of Marie-Henri Beyle (1783–1842), was a prolific writer in many genres, from art criticism and travel writing to various styles and modes of fiction. Red and Black (1830), his most enduring achievement, is considered by many to be one of the greatest masterpieces of nineteenth-century fiction.

Raymond N. MacKenzie is professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. His previous translations include Stendhal’s Italian Chronicles, Barbey d’Aurevilly’s Diaboliques, Lamartine’s Graziella, and Balzac’s Lost Illusions and Lost Souls (all published by the University of Minnesota Press).

Contents

Introduction: Chronicling the Nineteenth Century: Stendhal, Politics, and the Novel

Raymond N. MacKenzie

Red and Black

Publisher’s Note

Book I

Book II

Translator’s Notes