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Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Book of the Week

Stendahl, despite the Norwegian-sounding name, was a French writer who later moved to Italy and became very popular there. As part of my program to catch up on the great writers of the past I have not hitherto read, I began reading what is considered to be his greatest novel, The Red and the Black, recently. Some consider it to be one of the 100 greatest novels of all time.

I would not go quite that far, I think. While I haven't quite finished it yet, I am three-quarters through it, and while it is indubitably an excellent novel, and one well worth reading, being remarkable for its attention to detail and its focus on the psychology of the protagonist, it is somewhat marred by what I consider to be its socio-sexual flaws.

It is this book, more than any other, that has convinced me that my socio-sexual theory of literature may be a significantly useful writer's tool if it is ever refined and articulated. In any event, the Kindle ebook is only 99 cents, so it is absolutely worth the purchase price.

Also, I should mention that the Castalia House site is back up. If you're not seeing it, just wait a little while, it just means your ISP hasn't refreshed the DNS. We apologize for the inconvenience.

55 Comments:

Blogger Student in Blue April 05, 2016 11:06 AM  

Most pieces of literature I run into nowadays are basically "tainted" by knowledge of How Men And Women Really Are. It really does limit the amount of fiction that is pleasurable, whenever you can't help but see the author's biases and fantasies.

Part of why Castalia House has been such a boon lately.

Anonymous karsten April 05, 2016 11:07 AM  

Interesting bit of info: Stendahl adopted his pen name because he was a great admirer of Bismarck: "Stendal" being the name of the nearest larger town to the village of Schönhausen-an-der-Elbe, in the Altmark, where Bismarck was born.

Anonymous kfg April 05, 2016 11:23 AM  

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/44747/44747-h/44747-h.htm

Anonymous Chico and the Man April 05, 2016 11:29 AM  

The socio-sexual thing ruined Rothfuss's Name of the Wind series for me. The main character was just so cringeworthy. He has a thing for the hooker with the heart of gold that only he truly understands. The sexual encounters are initiated by a barbarian woman who takes the lead and then a wood nymph(?) who again seduces the main guy. There might have also been a barmaid who makes a move on him. It's a seriously disturbing look into the writer's gamma/beta distortion of female agency.

Jim Butcher's Dresden character falls into the same realm but the books are fun and readable--not a Rothfussian two tome yet-to-be-completed cry for help.

Anonymous Viidad April 05, 2016 11:31 AM  

I've also been seeing the socio-sexual pattern in my reading now that VD has pointed it out. It used to irritate me in a vague manner, but now it's actually been entertaining to play "spot the gamma."

Blogger Marcus Marcellus April 05, 2016 11:37 AM  

I wrote one of my college entrance essays (Chicago)on The Red and the Black, and after re-reading fifteen years later, I still think Balzac's Lost Illusions is the best of that genre. But it's a wonderful novel that should strike a chord with young male readers who see an increasingly limited number of opportunities for them in the NWO.

Blogger rycamor April 05, 2016 11:40 AM  

I find it interesting that the socio-sexual spectrum is perhaps the one area that Hollywood has a better grasp on than the literary masters. DISCLAIMER: yes, Hollywood is often patently dishonest about this, especially when it comes to chick flicks or nerd wish-fulfilment, but even there if you read between the lines it is obvious that they know what they are doing. Which makes sense, as manipulating our sexuality for money is their stock in trade.

Blogger Sanne April 05, 2016 11:48 AM  

Have you read "The Charterhouse of Parma"? I thought it was more interesting.

Blogger Dexter April 05, 2016 11:52 AM  

Sounds like Stendahl was alpha enough IRL:

He travelled extensively in Germany and was part of Napoleon's army in the 1812 invasion of Russia. Stendhal witnessed the burning of Moscow from just outside the city. Stendhal was appointed Commissioner of War Supplies and sent to Smolensk to prepare provisions for the returning army. He crossed the Berezina River by finding a usable ford rather than the overwhelmed pontoon bridge, which probably saved his life and those of his companions. Stendhal arrived in Paris in 1813, generally unaware of the general fiasco that the retreat had become. Stendhal became known, during the Russian campaign, for keeping his wits about him, and maintaining his "sang-froid and clear-headedness." He also maintained his daily routine, shaving each day during the retreat from Moscow.
...

Stendhal was a dandy and wit about town in Paris, as well as an inveterate womaniser who was obsessed with his sexual conquests.

OpenID jeffro April 05, 2016 11:54 AM  

Nice cover on the book there. The story of Candaules and Gyges is one of my favorites.

Blogger SouthRon April 05, 2016 12:11 PM  

Chico and the Man wrote:Jim Butcher's Dresden character falls into the same realm but the books are fun and readable--not a Rothfussian two tome yet-to-be-completed cry for help.

I've read most of The Dresden Files since last year's Hugos. I assume Dresden is Butcher's Mary Sue. Reading all of them in such close proximity to one another is interesting.

Most of the time Dresden seems to be on the higher end of Gamma. On occasion he gets close to Delta. But there was one book somewhere around White Night or Small Favor where he dropped to low Gamma or damn-near Omega that was nearly unreadable.

Blogger jamsco April 05, 2016 12:21 PM  

Vox, a while back, somewhere on the internet, you had a list of your (I think) 50 favorite books. Would you care to repost? Would you change it now?

And would your list of favorites be different from what you consider to be the greatest?

Blogger VD April 05, 2016 12:45 PM  

Have you read "The Charterhouse of Parma"? I thought it was more interesting.

That's next on the list, although I may read it in Italian due to the subject matter.

Vox, a while back, somewhere on the internet, you had a list of your (I think) 50 favorite books. Would you care to repost? Would you change it now?

I'll have to see if I can find it. I don't mind reposting, and I suspect Murakami will make an appearance now. Sadly, the latter Ecos won't.

And would your list of favorites be different from what you consider to be the greatest?

Absolutely. The Red and the Black may be a great novel, but it isn't going on my list of favorites. I am enjoying it, but I don't love it.

Blogger dienw April 05, 2016 12:48 PM  

Gutenberg Project

Anonymous Steve April 05, 2016 12:54 PM  

Most of the time Dresden seems to be on the higher end of Gamma. On occasion he gets close to Delta.

If I was a wizard, I'd get so much sexytimes it'd be illegal.

Literally illegal, like when you use sorcery to make beautiful women's clothes fall off.

Anyway, Harry Dresden is definitely a white knight and a simp. I love the guy, but it's true. He only had the pleasure of doing sweet love to a woman - what, once? - and that was through none of his endeavour.

I mean, he literally wears a fedora. For shame.

Blogger Dexter April 05, 2016 12:56 PM  

If I was a wizard, I'd get so much sexytimes it'd be illegal.

Eh, after the first few centuries of that, you'd get bored.

Anonymous Charlie Baud April 05, 2016 1:10 PM  

Stendahl was a propagandist for Napoleon and "La Revolution" who attacked the aristocracy and the Church because they were enemies of his revolutionary ideas, those same revolutionary ideals which destroyed French society decades before. Better to read Bonald or de Maistre.

Anonymous cincinnatus April 05, 2016 1:13 PM  

I find it interesting that the socio-sexual spectrum is perhaps the one area that Hollywood has a better grasp on than the literary masters.

@7 rycamor
I would dispute that quite strongly. A particularly egregious example is Mockingjay from the Hunger Games series. I was fully expecting the psychologically damaged uber-Gamma Peeta to meet with a gruesome accident and be killed off, and was very disappointed he actually ended up with Katniss and making a family with her.

Or consider the new Star Wars, or the new Mad Max. Don't know enough about the Harry Potter movies, but I suspect it's there too, as much as possible, given they can't really make Harry Potter a sidekick to a female lead.

I see the agenda, and it's disgusting. The trope of the superwoman Mary Sue with the meek Gamma tagalong has gotten established pretty firmly.

Stendhal was a dandy and wit about town in Paris, as well as an inveterate womaniser who was obsessed with his sexual conquests.

@9 Dexter
In regard to the sociosexual flaws in Stendhal's writing, I guess this would scratch his being a Gamma writing like Rothfuss.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr April 05, 2016 1:25 PM  

Vox, I think you're right. Your hierarchy is a powerful descriptive tool.

Rycamor, I agree with you in part. Hollywood USED to have a handle on the socio-sexual hierarchy. "Gone With The Wind" is a case study in it. Lately, not so much. They've let political correctness get in the way of telling a good story.

Blogger rycamor April 05, 2016 1:34 PM  

cincinnatus wrote:

I would dispute that quite strongly. A particularly egregious example is Mockingjay from the Hunger Games series. I was fully expecting the psychologically damaged uber-Gamma Peeta to meet with a gruesome accident and be killed off, and was very disappointed he actually ended up with Katniss and making a family with her.

Or consider the new Star Wars, or the new Mad Max. Don't know enough about the Harry Potter movies, but I suspect it's there too, as much as possible, given they can't really make Harry Potter a sidekick to a female lead.

I see the agenda, and it's disgusting. The trope of the superwoman Mary Sue with the meek Gamma tagalong has gotten established pretty firmly.



Just because they have an agenda doesn't mean they don't understand what they are doing.

I'm talking about the overall history of Hollywood, not just what is in the theaters now. Overall, Hollywood has profited from a good understanding of the socio-sexual spectrum, while its pretty obvious that many great writers are either oblivious or in denial about it. And you've got the latest Star Wars pegged wrong. She doesn't have a gamma tagalong. There is zero attempt at chemistry between the two. The guy is a delta, and he knows he's out of her league. The screenwriters actually showed some respectable restraint in that case.

And everyone, my teenage daughter included, feels uncomfortable about the Peeta story in Hunger Games. However, they paint the whole thing with sober hues: she is settling, and this is part of the tragedy of the story.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr April 05, 2016 1:35 PM  

I'll add that understanding the socio-sexual hierarchy can provide an author with plot ideas. Or at least characterization tips. If a writer is trying to create a "heroic yet sensitive" character, he's got to establish the heroism first. And the "sensitive" side should be something the character does NOT display publicly. Which implies either an inner monologue, or a confidante who has his complete trust.

Anonymous cincinnatus April 05, 2016 1:36 PM  

I've read most of The Dresden Files since last year's Hugos. I assume Dresden is Butcher's Mary Sue. Reading all of them in such close proximity to one another is interesting.

Most of the time Dresden seems to be on the higher end of Gamma. On occasion he gets close to Delta. But there was one book somewhere around White Night or Small Favor where he dropped to low Gamma or damn-near Omega that was nearly unreadable.


@11 SouthRon

I read the Rabid Puppies excerpt of Butcher's, and would have to agree. I'd call Butcher as a low Delta rather than Gamma because he's realistic. Dresden could be a James Bond-level seducer but is too insecure with himself to make any moves. Which, in a sense, would only add to his appeal, since the Deltas and Gammas reading it would identify with that.

In the excerpt, Hannah Ascher makes herself available to him to be seduced, but without explicitly taking any initiative -- again, a realistic assessment as to how a real woman would act. A Gamma writer would have Hannah make the moves on him. (Who knows, maybe she actually does later in the novel... I don't know.)

The only thing is that it would be frustrating for any Alpha, Beta, or Sigma readers that Dresden doesn't actually do anything.

Anonymous cincinnatus April 05, 2016 1:44 PM  

@19 rycamor

She doesn't have a gamma tagalong. There is zero attempt at chemistry between the two. The guy is a delta, and he knows he's out of her league. The screenwriters actually showed some respectable restraint in that case.

Same basic idea, except with a black Delta tagalong rather than Gamma. (The cynic in me wants to suggest that they'd get in trouble if they had a black Gamma tagalong, so they made him Delta instead, but of course, that's an unprovable idea.)

And everyone, my teenage daughter included, feels uncomfortable about the Peeta story in Hunger Games. However, they paint the whole thing with sober hues: she is settling, and this is part of the tragedy of the story.

Sure, she might have to settle... but for Peeta? Honestly? That dude was seriously repulsive.

Not only a Gamma, but one with psychological issues. In real life, even if Katniss settled for him, he'd have a flashback and try to knife her in his sleep.

I'd expect Uriah Heep to be more appealing.

Blogger Azimus April 05, 2016 1:56 PM  

Stendahl is 99 cents and what is Scalzi at these days? Sigh. I won't say Scalzi's a bad writer, or even want to talk about him at all, except to say the ship is not pointed in the right direction where our nation's top selling authors write TV show fan fiction for chuckles and most people think Tolstoy was a lovable Pelican in a recent Pixar film. The library in my local town of 50,000 people had two works of Faulkner, half a dozen for Christie, and every book ever written by Clive Cussler and Dean Koontz and sometimes triple copies. I weep for my people.

Blogger rycamor April 05, 2016 2:06 PM  

cincinnatus wrote:@19 rycamor

Same basic idea, except with a black Delta tagalong rather than Gamma. (The cynic in me wants to suggest that they'd get in trouble if they had a black Gamma tagalong, so they made him Delta instead, but of course, that's an unprovable idea.)


I still don't get what is your problem with that. I'm saying Hollywood freaking UNDERSTANDS it, not that Hollywood is promoting perfect ideals. Not every man is going to be alpha or sigma. I don't see anything that rings untrue about how they interact.

Now the question of the Mary Sue superwoman, yes, that is a Hollywood trope that has been ramped up to inane levels recently, but that is a different discussion.

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr April 05, 2016 2:10 PM  

It does seem to me that a skilled writer could take a female character and have her try to signal a male character that she IS interested. Some men hear "No" so frequently that they stop asking. Or are consumed with the Great Work. Maybe both.

Blogger SciVo April 05, 2016 2:13 PM  

Chico and the Man wrote:Jim Butcher's Dresden character falls into the same realm but the books are fun and readable--not a Rothfussian two tome yet-to-be-completed cry for help.

Dresden is genuinely damaged by the events of his childhood, and then progressively over the course of the series. So I think it's easier to take because he isn't just some confused, passive ladyboi. I mean, look what he did to his ex.

Anonymous Bah April 05, 2016 2:29 PM  

The library in my local town of 50,000 people had two works of Faulkner, half a dozen for Christie, and every book ever written by Clive Cussler and Dean Koontz and sometimes triple copies.

My local "library" has a lot of homeless bums loitering and generally stinking up the place, plus a lot of losers using the internet to watch videos and play games. Because it's really hard to get the internet in your home, or something, and therefore tax dollars should pay for people to have internet access in the library.

Anonymous cincinnatus April 05, 2016 2:34 PM  

I still don't get what is your problem with that. I'm saying Hollywood freaking UNDERSTANDS it, not that Hollywood is promoting perfect ideals. Not every man is going to be alpha or sigma. I don't see anything that rings untrue about how they interact.

Now the question of the Mary Sue superwoman, yes, that is a Hollywood trope that has been ramped up to inane levels recently, but that is a different discussion.


@24 rycamor
I'll concede Star Wars VII isn't a good example as for making my point, at least as far as the male characters are concerned. In that case, we can beat up on Hollywood for their constant pushing of superwomen and trying to wipe out any male character above Delta level -- except perhaps for supervillains, and even they are mostly Gamma these days.

A good counterexample is the new Jurassic Park. It actually featured a high-rank man taking control of an effed-up situation, including a ditzy attractive female in over her head.

Mockingjay most definitely does fit the unrealistic "girl falls for and chooses Gamma for whatever unknowable reason", though, and I'm sure they'll be trying to push such plots harder in the future.

Anonymous Charlie Baud April 05, 2016 3:17 PM  

Stendahl was a propagandist for Napoleon who attacked the Church and the aristocracy and other staples of French Society for not living up to his naive Revolutionary ideals. He was no Balzac.

Blogger Matt April 05, 2016 3:30 PM  

Back in 2000 Al Gore cited The Red and the Black as his favorite book. Bush said his favorite was 'The Raven', a 1929 biography of Sam Houston.

Bah
>>tax dollars should pay for people to have internet access in the library.<<

Actually yeah. Libraries have books that everyone can buy too. Sounds like you hate libraries.

cincinnatus
The only agenda that Hollywood has is to make money. There is a demand from the buying public to create more women action heroes. That's capitalism as work. Nothing wrong with that since even the male action heroes are all fantasy anyway. Why not let every group have their own super hero just as every country has one?

Blogger VD April 05, 2016 3:45 PM  

The only agenda that Hollywood has is to make money.

You don't know Hollywood at all.

Blogger rycamor April 05, 2016 3:56 PM  

If money were Hollywood's sole motivation, the world would be a far better place right now.

Anonymous Partyboob April 05, 2016 3:59 PM  

Anyone know how the quality of the translations for these cheap kindle copies? I read The Red and The Black in an older 1970s/80s Penguin Classics paperback edition and as far as I know that was a decent translation.

And while we're on topic how about the more contemporary editions of the Penguin Classics? Anybody know if they've been converged or dumbed down for a 21st century audience?

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 05, 2016 4:32 PM  

The first Star Wars got sociosexual right, the second one swapped Luke from eager Delta to Gamma so they could kind of take care of the near incest experience. Books screw it up more than movies, which is saying something.

Foundation and Empire got the Gamma perfectly in the Mule. A mentalist conquering warlord with an average girl on a pedestal.

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 4:48 PM  

I second the recommendations for "The Charterhouse of Parma".

"The Red and the Black" is excellent, but it pales by comparison.

Blogger Matt April 05, 2016 4:50 PM  

VD
rycamor

I know the film industry very well. Hollywood is driven by money. If you want a more nuanced answer then I would say, yes, the filmmakers are people and studios are run by people and people have a tendency to have political opinions, which can get into their product. Still, when producers sit down with studio heads they talk about making money first and foremost not about propaganda. As noted above when they choose to make movies with female heroines it's based on demand. But they too make missteps such as not producing enough movies with African American, Asian or Hispanic heroes. The fact that they haven't tells you that political correctness etc is not their chief objective.

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 5:19 PM  

@35

I know the film industry quite well, too. Lived in LA County for a number of years, and had many friends working as writers, producers, financial analysts, etc.

Your claim that it's solely about money and nothing to do with politics is either the result of wild ignorance or brazen dishonesty.

Blogger Matt April 05, 2016 5:34 PM  

SteelPalm

I didn't say it had 'nothing to do with politics'. Read my full comment. I said politics is not first and foremost on their minds.

But then I guess we run in different circles? Or maybe your definition of what Hollywood wants and what they achieve is different than mine? Are you saying EVERY movie and EVERY producer is thinking ONLY of politics? That is not my experience. In fact a good number of movies are not overtly political.

I live I L.A. county. I work in the film industry....

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 5:56 PM  

@37

"Are you saying EVERY movie and EVERY producer is thinking ONLY of politics?"

You're backpedaling so hard I'm amazed you haven't tripped.

Your initial statement was "The only agenda that Hollywood has is to make money."

When people point out that this is absurd, and politics clearly play a major role, you reply with the strawman quoted above.

So I guess we have our answer. You're a shameless liar and a shill. Knowing what most people in the film industry make, I hope the meager salary is worth it.

Anonymous Steve April 05, 2016 6:27 PM  

I dunno nothing about Hollywood.

But Chachi was on the news recently, and he said conservatives in Hollywood were afraid of being outed.

Doesn't sound like politics isn't a factor there.

Re: stupid PC movie decisions. They cast a black guy as Roland Deschain in the Dark Tower film.

Which is retarded, because we already know from the books that Roland is white. It's even a plot point on two occasions.

Won't be watching THE DARK TOWER, then.

Blogger John Williams April 05, 2016 6:28 PM  

I work in the film industry....
Are we supposed to be impressed? Fluffers work in the film industry.

Blogger Matt April 05, 2016 6:42 PM  

SteelPalm
Tough crowd. No reason to get defensive. LOL. Let me clarify. The 'primary' agenda in Hollywood IS money. But the nuanced answer is people are political and therefore politics do enter the picture and sometimes money means making movies with some political points - such as being culturally inclusive. But that, again, makes sense. If you are a distributor or producer you want more than just white boys going to movies. Right? Look at the top box office movies of 2016. How many are political? Or what is the political percentage of movies like Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Kung Fu Panda 3, Ride Along 2, 10 Cloverfield Lane? The meetings the studio people had for these films was how could they get the biggest bang for our buck? Not how can they push a political agenda down the throat of the audience. Note that the most overtly political film in the top ten this year is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - a conservative leaning film. That was distributed by Paramount Pictures. How could they release that? Paramount is run by liberals! Answer = money. The primary agenda...

Anonymous Partyboob April 05, 2016 7:02 PM  

"In fact a good number of movies are not overtly political."

Oh yeah? Then why are the movie and TV series propaganda tropes so commonplace?

The scientific genius black inventor. The kind, fun, normal homosexual male. The beautiful, feminine lesbian who is being persecuted for her sexuality. The perverse, warped heterosexual who doesn't like gays. The kickass female warrior. The cowardly white male. The noble leftist. The depraved, evil conservative. The intelligent, articulate black male. The inarticulate, unintelligent, white trash male. The poor, misunderstood transgender.

Several of these tropes infest any given movie or TV show. And it's not even subtle anymore which is why I say the leftist narrative is overt.

Want to tell me why mainstream movies or TV shows portray anything Jewish as heroic and wise while anything Christian is vile and dumb? Why are there no Jewish bad guys? I'm sure Hollywood is going to produce all those scripts they're sitting on where the Israeli government has done something morally questionable or the Mossad has murdered people in the name of hate or even when a Jewish-American feels shame at his heritage and denounces Judaism and works to fight against his former community. I'm sure it's just a matter of signing the right director and then the films will be coming out next year...

or maybe not because such scripts could never exist.

Anonymous Trimegistus April 05, 2016 7:06 PM  

One author who was red-pill as anyone could be: William Shakespeare. From Oberon in Midsummer Night's Dream, to Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, to Romeo and Juliet — this is a man who understands how men and women relate, and how it can go wrong.

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 7:14 PM  

@41 Funny that even in your hand-picked examples you include a movie, "Batman vs Superman" (the only one I'm well-familiar with) with very clear political biases. I'm sure that if I had seen the others, many of them wouldn't fit your claims of "politics-free", either.

Or that you didn't include one of the biggest box office hits of 2016, "Zootopia", which has VERY overt sociopolitical messages about not profiling others, even when they're violent and have a different culture. In a children's movie, no less.

The only here being "defensive" over his brazen contortion of reality is you.

@42 Man, where are these modern Hollywood movies with distinctly Jewish heroes? Must have missed them. As for "Jewish bad guys", here is a very recent one, "Triple 9";

http://www.debbieschlussel.com/81592/triple-9-among-most-anti-semitic-anti-israel-anti-cop-anti-military-movies-ever-violent-bloody-garbage/

Blogger Matt April 05, 2016 7:50 PM  

Partyboob

Part of what you talk about is inclusiveness. Yes, they often portray certain minorities in a positive light. I only find that problematic when they never make minorities bad guys. But they still do. At least in the shows I watch.

SteelPalm
True about Zootopia. Although most would agree that racial profiling is very controversial. Telling kids that it is best not to judge people by their race is a pretty good message. I would agree that Disney movies do have political messages in them. But sometimes they are hardly worth getting upset about. I remember critic Michael Medved got upset about The Little Mermaid because, in his view, it's a film about a girl that defies her father. Can't a girl have fun? Sheesh.

Anonymous Partyboob April 05, 2016 8:33 PM  

@45 No, it's not inclusiveness. It's propaganda. On par with media from the early days of the Soviet Union.

Genius negros, normal homosexuals, badass warrior women-- those things don't exist. Such persons are 0.1% of their populations. They only exist on screen. White, heterosexual men are portrayed as weak, cowardly, ignorant, and stupid because the left hates and fears non-elite white, heterosexual men.

@44 Welcome to our planet! I'm impressed on your ability to learn English in the very short time you must have been here. I take it you're from elsewhere in this universe since you apparently have never seen Earthling media, especially Hollywood's. I invite you to sit down and watch anything Hollywood has created in the last 50 years and then observe the portrayals of people of Jewish identity and just how many fictional characters and fictional plots involve Jews in some way relative to the rest of the population of our planet. That'll answer your question. You might notice a pattern. It's because Hollywood is heavily staffed with people of Jewish descent. (Pssst, they're not likely to paint themselves too poorly. Also, they can get a bit arrogant so they like to talk themselves up too. Hope this hint helps.)

Happy viewing!

Blogger VD April 05, 2016 9:03 PM  

Hollywood is driven by money.

That's ridiculous. If it were, you'd see a lot more PG movies and fewer R movies.

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 9:59 PM  

@46 So after having your claims about "no Jewish villains" smashed by a mainstream movie that came out last month, and not being able to provide a single example of a modern Hollywood movie with a distinctly Jewish hero, this sniveling, gamma-esque rhetorical reply is the best you can come up with? Figures.

Anonymous Rustle Kirk April 05, 2016 10:37 PM  

I remember an ancient NRO article mentioning this book.

Al Gore had said this was his favorite book. After describing the plot and the seedy main character, the writer basically said "If this is how Gore sees himself, God help us if this man becomes President".

"Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), 1830, by Stendhal, is a historical psychological novel in two volumes, chronicling a provincial young man’s attempts to socially rise beyond his modest upbringing with a combination of talent and hard work, deception and hypocrisy — yet who ultimately allows his passions to betray him."

Blogger SteelPalm April 05, 2016 10:39 PM  

Anyways, back on topic. I would be really curious about the quality of Stendhal books outside of "The Charterhouse of Parma" and "The Red and the Black". Heard they're not on the same level, but would like to be proven wrong.

Anonymous Lafferty April 06, 2016 5:04 AM  

For me, the book was marred by Stendhal's expected and tedious denouncement of everything to do with the Bourbon restoration. The nobles are corrupt! The church is corrupt! If only Napoleon were still around, then things would be better! It comes across as the ravings of a sore loser.

Blogger Dr. Mabuse April 06, 2016 6:09 PM  

If we're recommending French classics, I'd like to put in a word for Flaubert's "Sentimental Education". It's not as popular as "Madame Bovary", but I think it's better. Emma Bovary is self-destructive, but she's also a victim. Her life situation - female, middle class, country girl - has built-in limitations that nothing she does can ever change. Of course she makes things worse for herself by her decisions, but some of the unhappiness would have been there no matter what she did.

With SE, it's as if Flaubert said, "OK, I'll fix that." This time the protagonist is male, inherits a nice fortune, has lots of advantages and opportunities, and he STILL manages to screw everything up because of his weak character. This story also takes place at an interesting time: the 1848 revolution(s) that swept France and Europe. I don't know that much about this era, but it's interesting to see how the "elite class" has similarities to our own today. Everyone is shallow, on the take, screwing around behind everyone else's back yet expecting fidelity for themselves. It's a bigger canvas, and it's a good picture of a thoroughly rotten society stumbling around trying to avoid collapsing.

Anonymous Sir Humphrey April 06, 2016 7:27 PM  

@24 Good thing the radio book club exists to promote reading.

For certain values of promote.

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