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Julien leaves his provincial home to become a tutor, strives to raise himself professionally and socially, becomes embroiled in a series of romantic escapades, and finally faces a capital trial. The epigraph is attributed to Georges Jacques Danton, the proponent of the French Revolution who was later guillotined, but Danton may never have said it. Many of the epigraphs that open each chapter are either very loose renditions of quotations or outright fabrications. Thus the narrator, after one of the first interviews between Julien and Mme. The narrator consistently responds to Julien, but responds inconsistently. Reading itself is implicated in this process, as the characters compare events to books they have read, expecting life to imitate art.
He ultimately allows his passions to betray him. The title is taken to refer to the tension between the clerical black and secular red  interests of the protagonist, but this interpretation is but one of many. He comes from a poor family  and fails to understand much about the ways of the world he sets out to conquer. He harbours many romantic illusions, but becomes mostly a pawn in the political machinations of the ruthless and influential people about him. The adventures of the hero satirize early 19th-century French society, accusing the aristocracy and Catholic clergy of being hypocritical and materialistic , foretelling the radical changes that will soon depose them from their leading roles in French society.
Opening a Stendhal after - you have to think - a far too long interval, there is, at least for me, a rush of exhilaration, as if you have turned a corner and look! Stendhal said he didn't expect readers who would understand him until ; but this was a movable rendezvous with the future. At any rate they were still children or even unborn. This select few are now spread everywhere, but the nature of our fond addiction is perhaps not so simple, nor even entirely blame-free. A clue is in his remark that when he wrote this memoir he was not 38 but more like And it is true that we may easily recognise our adolescent selves in his prickly self-regard. I was in my 20s when I found The Red and the Black - and a friend.