Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Stendhal is light on the irony at the start of things, but then I came upon this in Ch. 5 and could not keep from laughing:
This horror of feeding with the servants was not natural to Julien; he would, in seeking his fortune, have done other things far more disagreeable. He derived this repugnance from Rousseau's _Confessions_. It was the one book that helped his imagination to form any idea of the world.
It goes on:
The collection of reports of the Grand Army and the _Memorial de Sainte-Helene_ completed his Koran. He would have gone to the stake for those three books. Never did he believe in any other. Remembering a saying of the old Surgeon-Major, he regarded all the other books in the world as liars, written by rogues in order to obtain advancement.

With his fiery nature Julien had one of those astonishing memories so often found in foolish people.
Ok, I'm definitely in for the long-haul--this is going to be fun. (The epigraph by "ENNIUS" made me smile as well.)

P.S. I'm reading the Moncrieff e-text since I have no bookstore access.


Blogger Isabella said...

There ARE funny bits. I find myself rereading some sentences, telling myself 'wait a minute, isn't that an insult?' I'm getting the feeling that no one will be spared.

Just now in flipping pages I see the epigraph for ch 6 from Mozart: "I no longer know what I am, or what I'm doing." I have to remind myself to go back and check these — they're witty on first reading them, but they take on more significance when I've finished the chapter.

4:34 PM  
Blogger marydell said...

What I remember from my first read in college is satire of France and French society. The best part about rereading it now is getting to focus on what it most interesting to me.

Although I haven't read beyond chapter 6 yet, I already find myself liking Julien and see signs of him being a very round character. Before going to the château, Julien stops in the church and thinks the spilled holy water is blood:

"Eventually Julien was ashamed of his secret terror.

—Am I a coward! he said to himself, To arms!"

Two sentences later at the mayor's:

"In spite of these fine resolves, from the moment he saw it twenty paces away, he was seized with an overpowering timidity."

I think Julien's antics are going to be a riot. He doesn't seem to know whether he's coming or going and I'm curious to find out how he actually manages to make his fortune.

[BTW, I'm reading the Penguin Classics edition, which is translated by Roger Gard.]

8:39 AM  

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