Monday, March 21, 2011

Classic Book Club failure

Not only did I not make it to Classic Book Club this time, because of being in that London, I haven't even finished the book yet. I may have mentioned before that I often struggle to read books in translation, and Stendhal's The Red and the Black is yet another novel in translation that I'm finding it very hard to get to grips with. I have tried to make allowances for the fact that the book is an early "psychological novel", one of the first in which you actually get to read the characters' thoughts and motivations, but I have so far failed to engage with any aspect of the book at all.
Missing out on the actual meeting means that I've missed out on the chance to talk myself round to liking or finishing the book, like I did with Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, which I thought I didn't like when I read it, but managed to sort into some kind of managable order in my head while discussing it with other people, with the end result that I have a much more favourable opinion of it now.
I might try and persist with The Red and the Black, partly because I don't like to leave a book unfinished, and partly because the point at which I've dropped it--where Julian Sorel arrives in Paris--is apparently the start of the good half, so maybe it suddenly throws off its shackles as a novel and becomes fantastic.
I'll have a run at it this weekend and see how I go. If I still don't like it in another hundred pages, I'll leave it.

1 comment:

ian said...

I'm not sure it's actually worth continuing with the Red and the Black. It turns into a spy novel for a couple of chapters and gets very exciting, but then it just goes back to all the shiting on.