A middle-aged non-English major wrestles with the classics
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Still More Red and Black Thoughts
Mulling the book over one thought has struck me: Julien's just a kid! He does some dumb, crazy, hypocritical things in the book, but he never lost my sympathy, and I think that's in a large part because he's young and naive and just doesn't know any better. He tries to be the Machiavellian figure, all manipulative and controlling, and yet he can't keep up the facade for very long before his emotions come crashing through (examples: collapsing in tears at Madame de Renal's feet when he can't figure out how to seduce her (and oops, this is exactly the move that works), and his shooting of Madame de Remal). And I think part of his attraction to Madame de Renal is as a mother figure, in a way. She's older than him, and at the end he refers to their bond as "filial" (at least in the translation I read). Like many young men, he's full of bravado and bluster, but short on the worldly knowledge to pull his ambitions off in the end. Poor kid
And does anyone in this book come out looking good in the end? I can't think of anyone.
But enough about Julien, I'm on to the next book. Next up: Silas Marner.
I'm a middle-aged scientist/musician who, facing the inevitable slow decay toward decrepitude and death, decided it would be a travesty to die without having read the greatest works of literature. Thus, I set the goal for myself to complete the work my high school english teachers started. I made a list of the top 105 books that I never read but should have, pulled a book off the shelf, poured a tall glass of fine American whiskey, and off I went. This blog reports on my adventures along the way. For a fuller explanation, you can start here