I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Stendhal is raunchier

I am re-reading  Stendhal's The Red And The Black, but in English. Joe is re-reading it in French. Decisions were made independently. I'd forgotten what a comic (yet tragic) character Julien Sorel is, also French/English attitudes when writing about sex in the 19th century.

Stendhal (1783 - 1842) - pictured - was born earlier than Dickens (1812 - 1870) yet you wouldn't know it if you compared R&B (1830) with what I've always thought of as Dickens' greatest novel, Bleak House (1852). I'll spare your blushes on the matter of sexual detail but Stendhal leaves you in no doubt about what has happened during the first great seduction, even if he stops well short of the wearisomely sweaty passages in present-day bonkbusters. Dickens, if my imagination serves me, would have sidled into metaphor for the same scene.

I blame Jane Austen (1775 - 1817) who writes about characters "making love". It is clear the phrase has lost something (rather, gained something) over the years.

A TOUGH CALL VR has just finished listening to my 22-CD set of Jim Norton reading the complete Ulysses and has also downloaded the novel to her Kindle for another day. Amazon, eternally egregious, asks her to rate Ulysses as good or bad. Laughing, she asks me. Sternly I tell her she must make up her own mind.

WIP Second Hand (49,426 words – so clo-o-se to 50,000)
A man wearing a Liberty tie that counterpointed his dark, hip-conscious suit (said). “And now you all know how far Derbyshire is from London. Yes folks, Palatewise is out in the sticks… We’re undeniably provincial. But in our business, provincial is good, provincial-rural even better. Carbon monoxide levels here are fifty percent lower than in Whitehall, particulates even lower.


  1. We studied R and B, (Scarlet and Black in my version) in our book study group. I agree with what you say about the sex content, but looking through notes I kept (probably from Wikipedia) I find the following:

    “In 1822 Stendhal published De L’Amour, “the driest book about love ever written”, 17 copies sold in 11 years four kinds of love: the physical, the tasteful, love from vanity, and love from passion, which is the source of highest happiness.”

    It doesn’t credit the “dryest” quotation so one can’t decide on its credence.

    Thank you for bringing this back to my attention - our current subject is focusing on writing techniques and one of the categories is the intrusive narrator (author), and I find that Stendhal comes in as a first person commenter several times, so it will be a good example to introduce next Thursday.

  2. "hip-concious suit" - a bit of Dylan Thomas influence here?

  3. Sir Hugh: Forget De l'Amour, all you need to know and read are R&B and The Charterhouse of Parma. They are energetic, comprehensive masterpieces, and you can quote me.

    "Hip-conscious." Better than DT. I'm not sure he would picked up the other, more modern, meaning of hip.