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Publisher's Summary

A BBC Radio drama of Stendhal's masterpiece—plus bonus documentary.

Both a sweeping chronicle of 19th-century France and a coming-of-age story of a young, idealistic social climber, The Red and the Black is one of the great works in world literature, and widely considered to be the first psychological novel.

It charts the misadventures and romantic escapades of Julien Sorel, a timber miller's son who idolises Napoleon and dreams of military glory. But post-Waterloo, the path to power does not lie with the army (the 'red'), but the Church (the 'black'), so he decides to study for the priesthood. Then an opportunity arises to further increase his status as tutor to the mayor's children—and when the mayor's wife, Mme de Renal, falls in love with him, he seduces her.

Their affair is discovered, and he is forced to leave Verrières and enter the seminary—only for his life to be transformed when his mentor, Abbé Pirard, finds him a job in Paris, as private secretary to the aristocratic Marquis de la Mole. Finally, Julien has an entrée into high society—and when he wins the heart of the Marquis' beautiful, haughty daughter Mathilde, he seems to have the world at his feet. But as his past returns to haunt him, Julien commits a terrible crime that will seal his fate....

A gripping tale of love, ambition, morality and hypocrisy, The Red and the Black was adapted as an award-winning 1954 film by Claude Autant-Lara, and televised as a 1993 BBC mini-series starring Ewan McGregor. This lively, fast-paced radio adaptation stars William Squire as the Narrator and Andrew Hall as Julien, with a cast including Margo Gunn, Deborah Paige and Edward de Souza.

Also included is the fascinating documentary feature Stendhal and Napoleon, in which Andy Martin tells how Stendahl followed Napoleon across Europe to Moscow in 1812 as catering manager to the troops—and changed fiction in the process.

Production credits:

Written by Stendhal.

Translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff.

Dramatised by D.G. Bridson.

Directed by Brian Miller.


Narrator - William Squire

Julien Sorel - Andrew Hall

Mme de Renal - Deborah Paige

Napoleon - Edward de Souza

Mme Derville - Marilyn Le Conte

M de Renal - John Franklyn-Robbins

Fouqué - Norman Eshley

Elise/Adolphe - Debby Comming

Valenod/Guillaume - Esmond Rideout

Mme Valenod/Marquise de la Mole - Margaret Robertson

Abbé Chelan - Hedley Goodall

Amanda - Rosalind Adams

Abbé Pirard - Malcolm Hayes

Student/Bishop/Antoine - Andrew Hilton

Abbé Castenede - Roger Snowdon

Abbé Chas Bernard - Haydn Andrews

Examiner/Stewart - John Livesey

Marquis de la Mole - Cyril Shaps

Mlle Mathilde - Margo Gunn

Norbert - Sion Probert

Croisenois - Jon Glentoran

Caylus/Coachman - Stephen Garlick

Thayler/Lt Lievin - Anthony Hyde

Chevalier de Beauvoisis - Alexander John

Conde Altamira/Friar - Nicholas Courtney

Academician - Christopher Scott

Mathilde's cousin - Amanda Murray

Queen Marguerite - Theresa Streatfeild

Prince Korasoff - John Rye

Mme la Margchal - Pauline Letts

Gunsmith - John Webb

Jailer - David Timson

Magistrate - Alan Dudley

Père Sorel - Jerold Wells

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 2nd August - 13th September 1981.

Stendhal and Napoleon

Presented by Andy Martin.

Produced by Tim Dee.

First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 9th December 2012.

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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