A kind-hearted and idealistic youth enters the grasping Parisian society of the 1820s, where his education in the realities and costs of city life begin among the residents of a shabby but respectable boardinghouse. 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. Acclaimed by critic Leslie Stephen as "the modern King Lear," it offers a timeless view of the tragedies behind the prosaic details of everyday life. Translated by Ellen Marriage.
The crown jewel in a remarkable literary career, Cousin Bette is regarded by many critics to be Balzac's last great work before his death in 1850. A fine example of European realist fiction, the story recounts the attempt of a disgruntled housewife to bring about the misery and destruction of her entire extended family. Fans of Tolstoy's War and Peace will enjoy Cousin Bette.
During Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, one French soldier becomes separated from his regiment and finds himself wandering lost in the desert. Just when he has given up all hope, he makes an unlikely friend. This highly allegorical short story gives readers an opportunity to ponder the nature of love and human relationships.
Balzac's La Comedie Humaine was a story cycle comprising more than 100 novels and stories. Although most of these works are set in nineteenth-century France, several hearken back to earlier periods. Catherine de' Medici centers on the life of the woman born into an aristocratic family in medieval Italy who went on to become Queen consort and, later, regent of France.
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