excerpt from the Red and the Black


It was the sole book through which his imagination formed any idea of the larger world. Never did he have faith in any other.

In Paris Julien’s relations with Mme de Renal would swiftly have been simplified; but in Paris love is born of fiction. The young tutor and his shy mistress would have found the explanation of their situation in three or four novels, or even in some couplets from the Gymnase. The novels would have outlined for them the parts to play, showed them the model to imitate; and sooner or later, although with no pleasure, perhaps reluctantly, vanity would have forced Julien to follow the model.

A poor young man who is ambitious only because his sensitivity of spirit gives him the need for some of the enjoyments available to wealth.

Julien knew nothing else. Julien felt humiliated from the moment silence fell in female company, as if the silence had been his particular fault. His ideas was in the clouds, yet he was incapable of breaking out of that most humiliating silence.

In the future, went on Julien, I will rely only on those parts of my character I have tested. Who would have thought I would have found pleasure in shedding tears! that I would love someone who shows me that I am no better than a fool!

-the Red and the Black, Stendhal


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