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This vivid portrait of the underbelly of nineteenth-century Paris, exuberantly rendered by Jordan Stump, is the first major translation in more than a century of Balzac’s forgotten masterpiece L’Envers de l’histoire contemporaine. Featuring an illuminating Introduction by Adam Gopnik, this original Modern Library edition also includes explanatory notes.
From the Hardcover edition.
In "The Unknown Masterpiece," a tale much admired by Cézanne and Picasso, a painter becomes obsessed with his search for utter perfection. In its masterly examination of the conflict between an artist's commitment to his work and his obligations to others, the story involves a theme particularly close to Balzac's heart. Two of the other stories explore the consequences of the quest for worldly wealth. Written in 1830 but set in France's Revolutionary period, "An Episode During the Terror" moves from a suspenseful beginning to a solemn tableau that contrasts material poverty with spiritual riches; in "Facino Cane" an old and destitute blind man recounts how his passion for gold led to his fall from grace. Included also are "The Revolutionary Conscript" and "A Passion in the Desert."
In their bold, distinctive portraits of French society during the 19th century, these tales offer a perfect introduction for readers unfamiliar with Balzac's work. This modestly priced edition will also appeal to those already acquainted with the author's much-imitated but unsurpassed style.
French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) was a founder of realism in European literature. An inspiration to Proust, Dickens, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, and countless others, Balzac wrote works that were hailed for their multifaceted characters and exquisite attention to detail. This edition's excellent translation was the first to make Contes Drolatiques available to English-speaking readers.
The Charterhouse of Parma chronicles the exploits of Fabrizio del Dongo, an ardent young aristocrat who joins Napoleon's army just before the Battle of Waterloo. Yet perhaps the novel's most unforgettable characters are the hero's beautiful aunt, the alluring Duchess of Sanseverina, and her lover, Count Mosca, who plot to further Fabrizio's political career at the treacherous court of Parma in a sweeping story that illuminates an entire epoch of European history.
"Stendhal has written The Prince up to date, the novel that Machiavelli would write if he were living banished from Italy in the nineteenth century," noted Balzac in his famous review of The Charterhouse of Parma. "Never before have the hearts of princes, ministers, courtiers, and women been depicted like this. . . . One sees perfection in every detail. . . . [It] has the magnitude of a canvas fifty feet by thirty, and at the same time the manner, the execution, is Dutch in its minuteness. . . . The Charterhouse of Parma often contains a whole book in a single page. . . . It is a masterpiece."
This edition includes original illustrations by Robert Andrew Parker and Notes and a Translator's Afterword by Richard Howard.
'My hour is come ... the clock of eternity is about to strike, but its knell must be unheard by mortal ears!'
This violent, profound, baroque and blackly humorous novel is the story of Melmoth, who has sold his soul in exchange for immortality in a satanic bargain, and now preys on the helpless in their darkest moments, offering to ease their suffering if they will take his place and release him from his centuries of tortured wanderings. Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) blended Gothic fiction and psychological realism to create a work of hallucinatory power.
The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
Throughout his working life in Paris Daudet never lost his almost umbilical attachment to Provence. These tales of that region are characterised by a tenderness and delicacy, a wistfulness and wry humour, which give moving substance to his claim that to invent, for him, was to remember.
Père Goriot — one of the outstanding novels in The Human Comedy, Balzac's panoramic study of Parisian life — features richly detailed settings, a skillfully related plot, and a vibrant cast of characters. Young Rastignac's acquaintance with the elderly widower Goriot, a formerly wealthy merchant impoverished by the demands of his fashionable daughters, lies at the heart of this story of love and greed. Acclaimed by critic Leslie Stephen as "the modern King Lear," Père Goriot offers a timeless view of the tragedies behind the prosaic details of everyday life.