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.
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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.
The Belly of Paris (Le Ventre de Paris) is the third novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart, first published in 1873. It is a novel of the teeming life which surrounds the great central markets of Paris. The book was originally translated into English by Henry Vizetelly and published in 1888 under the title Fat and Thin. After Vizetelly's imprisonment for obscene libel the novel was one of those revised and expurgated by his son, Ernest Alfred Vizetelly.
The heroine is Lisa Quenu, a daughter of Antoine Macquart. She has become prosperous, and with prosperity her selfishness has increased. Her brother-in-law Florent had escaped from penal servitude in Cayenne and lived for a short time in her house, but she became tired of his presence and ultimately denounced him to the police.
Émile Zola (1840 – 1902) was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France.
Appendices to this edition include material on the Jacobite Rebellion and related conflicts, Scottish folklore, and a broad selection of contemporary reviews of Waverley.
Sensational, engrossing, and heartbreaking, The Mysteries of Paris is doubtless one of the most entertaining and influential works to emerge from the nineteenth century. It was one of France’s first serial novels, and for sixteen months, Parisians rushed in droves to the newsstands each week for the latest installment. Eugène Sue’s intricate melodrama unfolds around a Paris where, despite the gulf between them, the fortunes of the rich and poor are inextricably tangled. The suspenseful story of Rodolphe, a magnetic hero of noble heart and shadowy origins, was spun out over 150 issues—garnering wild popularity, influencing political change, and inspiring a raft of successors, including Les Misérables and The Count of Monte Cristo. At long last, this lively translation makes the riveting drama of Sue’s classic available to a new century of readers.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Victor Hugo's impassioned early work carries the same power and universality as Les Misérables. A vocal opponent to the barbarity of the guillotine, Hugo attempted to arouse compassion in the service of justice. This tale distills his beliefs and offers a highly significant contribution to the ongoing debate over the death penalty. A new Foreword by activist David Dow examines the message and relevance of Hugo's story to modern society.
Translated by Natalie Duddington and T. Keane
‘Death and honour are thought to be the same, but today I have learned that sometimes they are not.’
Set in frontier America in the midst of the French-Indian war, as the French are attempting to overthrow an English fort, Cooper’s story follows Alice and Cora Munro, pioneer sisters who are trying to find their way back to their father, an English commander. Guided by an army major and Magua, an Indian from the Huron tribe, they soon meet Hawk-eye, a frontier scout and his Mohican Indian companions Chingachgook and Uncas.
Magua is not all that he seems and the sisters are kidnapped. In The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper sets Indian tribe against Indian tribe and lays bare the brutality of the white man against the Mohicans.
Rousseau's great epistolary novel, Julie, or the New Heloise, has been virtually unavailable in English since 1810. In it, Rousseau reconceptualized the relationship of the individual to the collective and articulated a new moral paradigm. The story follows the fates and smoldering passions of Julie d'Etange and St. Preux, a one-time lover who re-enters Julie's life at the invitation of her unsuspecting husband, M. de Wolmar.
The complex tones of this work made it a commercial success and a continental sensation when it first appeared in 1761, and its embodiment of Rousseau's system of thought, in which feelings and intellect are intertwined, redefined the function and form of fiction for decades. As the characters negotiate a complex maze of passion and virtue, their purity of soul and honest morality reveal, as Rousseau writes in his preface, "the subtleties of heart of which this work is full."
A comprehensive introduction and careful annotations make this novel accessible to contemporary readers, both as an embodiment of Rousseau's philosophy and as a portrayal of the tension and power inherent in domestic life.