In December of 1827, Marie Henri Beyle read a newspaper account of the trial of a young man charged with the attempted murder of a married woman. With this as inspiration, Beyle – under the pen hame of Stendhal – set about writing what was to become one of the great psychological novels of all time, “The Red and the Black.” Set in a small provincial French town, and in Paris, the book tells the story of Julien Sorel, a handsome and brilliant young tutor who is both hero and villian. Considered one of literature’s most complex characters, Sorel is cold, opportunistic, and uncompromising with others – including his influential mistress – as he seeks to fulfill his lust for power and wealth; yet he is hopelessly victimized by his own romantic soul and by the military and religious forces – the “Red” and the “Black” – that prevail in all of France.
Henri-Marie Beyle, better known by his pen name Stendhal , was a 19th-century French writer. Known for his acute analysis of his characters’ psychology, he is considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism in his two novels Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma, 1839).