I finally read Stendhal's The Red and The Black. I enjoyed reading it, but it was more an intellectual than an emotional pleasure. He's writing in the time of the Romantics, but he's quite different that, say, Victor Hugo.
Stendhal's characters are often in the dark about their own motivations, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart, where they seem to be more motivated by competition than by true attraction.
The book is centered on Julien Sorel, a young man of low social standing but high ability. France in the 1830's is not big on upward social mobility. Nonetheless, Julien pursues high ambitions and well-bred women.
But he loses his head
And winds up dead.