ONLINE SEMINAR
November 9 | Stendhal’s The Red and the Black

In a turbulent era, continuity can be comforting, even if found in the regularity with which humanity indulges its most inhumane impulses. France on the eve of the July Revolution of 1830 was far from the society of liberty, equality, and fraternity promised by the French Revolution. The Red and the Black, published in 1830, is a portrait of societal decay set more or less at the time of its composition. Stendhal was not considered an important writer when he died in 1842. Over the next century, he came to be seen as a seminal figure in European literature and the development of the novel.

Julien Sorel, Stendhal’s antihero is a maddeningly complex character. As a young man, with Napoleon as his model, he begins a campaign of sexual conquest and social climbing, fully aware that, with enough ambition and talent, only principles and integrity can impede him. Once he has ascended to the Paris aristocracy, the daughter of a marquis falls in love with him, and Julien is unable to maintain his ruthless detachment.

The novel is startlingly modern in its attitude – at once romantic and ironic – toward questions that still resonate. How should we regard hypocrisy and immorality in a society in which they’re essential for success? Do ends always justify means? Is it possible to have a revolution that benefits everyone? If not, is it inevitable that those left behind will eventually seek vengeance against those it favored?

When: Six weekly sessions on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, starting November 9, 2020

Duration: 2 hours per session

Cost: C$350 plus 13% HST (approx. US$250 plus 13% HST)

Group Size: 12-participant limit

How: We will be using Zoom online meeting software; you will receive instructions on how to download Zoom free after registration. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded.

Select your registration below; please use the Toronto Pursuits credit option only if you are a registered participant of Toronto Pursuits 2020 who wants to put your deposit or previous payment toward an online seminar.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

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Description

LEADER

Mike Levine is an independent editor. He was previously an acquisitions editor at Northwestern University Press. Among the authors he published were Jen Beagin (Whiting Award winner), A. E. Stallings (National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, finalist), and Stephen Karam (Pulitzer Prize in Drama, finalist). He has also been a senior editor at the Great Books Foundation. Since 2000, he has taught literature and film seminars in several continuing education programs.

BOOK

The Red and the Black, by Stendhal, translated by Roger Gard
(Penguin Classics, 2002)
ISBN-13: 978-0140447644

Please be sure to obtain this translation.

We encourage you to support local bookstores or other independent sellers. In the US, try Bookshop.org. In Canada, try McNally Robinson or Indigo.

In a turbulent era, continuity can be comforting, even if found in the regularity with which humanity indulges its most inhumane impulses. France on the eve of the July Revolution of 1830 was far from the society of liberty, equality, and fraternity promised by the French Revolution. The Red and the Black, published in 1830, is a portrait of societal decay set more or less at the time of its composition. Stendhal was not considered an important writer when he died in 1842. Over the next century, he came to be seen as a seminal figure in European literature and the development of the novel and counted among the greatest French writers, along with Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, and Proust.

Julien Sorel, Stendhal’s antihero is a maddeningly complex character. As a young man, with Napoleon as his model, he begins a campaign of sexual conquest and social climbing, fully aware that, with enough ambition and talent, only principles and integrity can impede him. Once he has ascended to the Paris aristocracy, the daughter of a marquis falls in love with him, and Julien is unable to maintain his ruthless detachment.

Whereas earlier novels presented themselves as histories, the the factual elements of the fictional world carefully matched with reality, Stendhal, despite subtitling his work “a chronicle,” did not concern himself with verifiable truth so much as psychological truth. In The Red and the Black, he laid the groundwork for what came to be known as the psychological novel, Dostoevsky perhaps its greatest master. He not only gives us access to Julien’s interior monologues; he also employs a narrator who functions more like another character, viewing the action as if within it rather than above it, his opinions about what he sees variable. As Stendhal wrote elsewhere, “I make no claim to veracity except insofar as my feelings are concerned.”

The novel is also startlingly modern in its attitude – at once romantic and ironic – toward questions that still resonate. How should we regard hypocrisy and immorality in a society in which they’re essential for success? Do ends always justify means? Is it possible to have a revolution that benefits everyone? If not, is it inevitable that those left behind will eventually seek vengeance against those it favored?

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

 

 

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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit

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