The Red and The Black

The Red and The Black

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation
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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, 2 August-13 September 1981

Stendhal and Napoleon
Presented by Andy Martin
Produced by Tim Dee
First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 9 December 2012

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

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