I read a bit more of Stendhal before bed. Julien and Madame de Rênal are lovers now. Stendhal has a nice way of talking about their lovemaking, I think. Julien’s a little prick, of course, but what can you expect from a boy that age? He was so set on conquest, Stendhal suggests, that he couldn’t really enjoy his victory. He was very self-conscious, apparently, but it was his first time, and with an older woman. He tried to come off as a Don Juan, but Stendhal says: ‘what made Julien a superior being was the very thing that prevented him from enjoying this happiness right in front of his eyes. He was like a sixteen-year-old girl with charming colouring who is silly enough to put on rouge when going to a ball.’ And that is what’s nice about boys of a certain age. They are trying so hard to pull off being a man when it’s their bumbling youth that’s so pleasing. But then their inevitable failure only adds to their appeal.


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