Book//mark – The Red and the Black | M. de Stendhal, 1830

 M. de Stendhal, Le Rouge et le Noir, Chronique du XIXe siècle 1830      M. de Stendhal / Marie-Henri Beyle (1783 -1842)

“Our true passions are selfish.”

“Faith, I am no such fool; everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”

“I am mad, I am going under, I must follow the advice of a friend, and pay no heed to myself.”

“Your career will be a painful one. I divine something in you which offends the vulgar.”

“…one of the traits of genius is not to drag its thought through the rut worn by vulgar minds.”

“A girl of sixteen had a complexion like a rose, and she put on rouge.”

“Love born in the brain is more spirited, doubtless, than true love, but it has only flashes of enthusiasm; it knows itself too well, it criticizes itself incessantly; so far from banishing thought, it is itself reared only upon a structure of thought.”

“Indeed, man has two different beings inside him. What devil thought of that malicious touch?”

“An English traveller relates how he lived upon intimate terms with a tiger; he had reared it and used to play with it, but always kept a loaded pistol on the table.”

“After moral poisoning, one requires physical remedies and a bottle of champagne.”

“These gentlemen, although of the highest nobility,’ thought Julien, ‘are not in the least boring like the people who come to dine with M. de La Mole; and I can see why,’ he added a moment later,’they are not ashamed to be indecent.”

“But, if I sample this pleasure so prudently and circumspectly, it will no longer be a pleasure.”

“A melancholy air can never be the right thing; what you want is a bored air. If you are melancholy, it must be because you want something, there is something in which you have not succeeded.
It is shewing your inferiority. If you are bored, on the other hand, it is the person who has tried in vain to please you who is inferior.”

“They can only touch the heart by bruising it.”

“Feminine delicacy was carried to excess in Mme de Renal.”

“She phrased it masterfully, displaying a steadiness that was acting as if it were struggling to wrap itself in politeness.”

“They were completely vague. They expressed everything and nothing. ‘It is the Æolian harp of style,’ thought Julien. ‘Amid the most lofty thoughts about annihilation, death, the infinite, etc., I can see no reality save a shocking fear of ridicule.”

“What is the use of a love that makes one yawn? One might as well take to religion.”

“The idea which tyrants find most useful is the idea of God.”

“Prestige! Sir, is it nothing? To be revered by fools, gaped at by children, envied by the rich and scorned by the wise.”

“Since the time of Voltaire and two-chamber Government, which is at bottom simply distrust and personal self-examination, and gives the popular mind that bad habit of being suspicious, the Church of France seems to have realised that books are its real enemies.”

“The ordinary procedure of the nineteenth century is that when a powerful and noble personage encounters a man of feeling, he kills, exiles, imprisons or so humiliates him that the other, like a fool, dies of grief.”

”Julien had tried in vain to make himself small and stupid, he could not be liked; he was far too different.”

”A few minutes later, Julien found himself alone in a magnificent library; it was a delightful moment. So no one would come to him, excited as he was, he hid himself in a dark corner. From there, he looked out at the books’ glittering spines. ‘I could read every one of them,’ he told himself.”

“Mathilde returned and strolled past the drawing-room windows; she saw him busily engaged in describing to Madame de Fervaques the old ruined castles that crown the steep banks of the Rhine and give them so distinctive a character. He was beginning to acquit himself none too badly in the use of the sentimental and picturesque language which is called wit in certain drawing-rooms.”

“An insane self-consciousness made him commit thousands of blunders.”

“I ought to keep a diary of this siege, he said to himself on returning to the hotel; otherwise I will lose track of my assaults.”

“Courage was the fundamental quality in her character. Nothing was capable of giving her any excitement and of curing her of an ever-present tendency to boredom, but the idea that she was playing heads or tails with her whole existence.”

“The suspicion that a rival is loved is painful enough already, but to have the love that he inspires in her confessed to one in detail by the woman whom one adores is without doubt the acme of suffering.”

”Suddenly, a word frightened her: adulteress. She could see it. The worst things that the vilest debauchery could stamp on the notion of sensual love swarmed into her mind. These ideas were trying to stain the glow of the tender, divine image she had constructed, both of Julien himself and the happiness of loving him. The future was painted in ghastly colors, She saw herself as contemptible.”

“Your water does not refresh me, said the thirsty genie. Yet it is the coolest well in all the Diar Bekir.”

“For the future, I shall rely only upon those elements of my character which I have tested. Who would ever have said that I should find pleasure in shedding tears? That I should love the man who proves to me that I am nothing more than a fool?”

“Punish me for my atrocious pride,” she said to him, squeezing him in her arms as though to strangle him; “you are my master, I am your slave, I must beg pardon upon my knees for having sought to rebel.” She slipped from his embrace to fall at his feet. “Yes, you are my master,” she said again, intoxicated with love and joy; “reign over me for ever, punish your slave severely when she seeks to rebel.”

“In another moment she had torn herself from his arms, lighted the candle, and Julien had all the difficulty in the world in reventing her from cutting off all one side of her hair. “I wish to remind myself,” she told him, “that I am your servant: should my accursed pride ever make me forget it, show me these locks and say: “There is no question now of love, we are not concerned with the emotion that your heart may be feeling at this moment, you have sworn to obey, obey upon your honour.”

In a small town of the Aveyron or the Pyrenees, the slightest incident would have been made decisive by the ardour of the climate. Beneath our more sombre skies, a penniless young man, who is ambitious only because the refinement of his nature puts him in need of some of those pleasures which money provides, is in daily contact with a woman of thirty who is sincerely virtuous, occupied with her children, and never looks to novels for examples of conduct. Everything goes slowly, everything happens by degrees in the provinces: life is more natural.”

“A good book is an event in my life.”

“Ah, Sir, a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.”

“He could no longer give a thought to anything else. His days passed like hours. At all hours of the day, when he sought to occupy his mind with some serious business, his thoughts would abandon everything, and he would come to himself a quarter of an hour later, his heart throbbing, his head confused, and dreaming of this one idea: ‘Does she love me?”

“All right, two mornings from now I’ll fight a duel with a fellow known for his calm collectedness and remarkable skill…’Very remarkable,’ said his Mephistophelian side. ‘He never misses.”

M. de Stendhal ^, Le Rouge et le Noir, Chronique du XIXe siècle, 1830
 pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle (1783 -1842)
The title refers to the tension between the clerical (black) and secular (red), and the contradiction between thinking and feeling.

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