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.
Edith Wharton's "Madame de Treymes" is a remarkable example of the form. It is the story of the tactical defeat but moral victory of an honest and upstanding American in his struggle to win a wife from a tightly united but feudally minded French aristocratic family. He loses, but they cheat. . . . In a masterpiece of brevity, Wharton dramatizes the contrast between the two opposing forces: the simple and proper old brownstone New York, low in style but high in principle, and the achingly beautiful but decadent Saint-Germain district of Paris. The issue is seamlessly joined.
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.
This fascinating novel from French master Honore de Balzac was published just as the age of bureaucracy was kicking into high gear in the mid-nineteenth century. Balzac delves deeply into the labyrinthine workings of a French agency, conveying the machinations, political alliances, and complex characters with astonishing texture and detail.
"The Purse" is a short story that makes up part of Honore de Balzac's epic cycle The Human Comedy. Daydreaming while working on a ladder, the painter Hippolyte Schinner accidentally falls and sustains an injury. Two neighbors -- a mother and daughter -- come to his aid, and he falls in love at first sight with the beautiful young woman, Adelaide. But over time, he begins to notice that the veneer of aristocratic gentility that the two project is not what it appears.
Fusing romance and realism in a unique, gripping style, Balzac wrote more than 90 novels and tales in which he endowed the lives of his seemingly ordinary characters with a highly melodramatic gloss. This choice collection presents readers with original translations of five of the great French writer's most acclaimed stories. 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.
En 1845, Balzac décida de réunir toute son oeuvre sous le titre: La Comédie Humaine, titre qu'il emprunta peut-être à Vigny... En 1845, quatre-vingt-sept ouvrages étaient finis sur quatre-vingt-onze, et Balzac croyait bien achever ce qui restait en cours d'exécution. Lorsqu'il mourut, on retrouva encore cinquante projets et ébauches plus ou moins avancés. Vous ne figurez pas ce que c'est que La Comédie Humaine; c'est plus vaste littérairement parlant que la cathédrale de Bourges architecturalement, écrit-il à Mme Carreaud. Dans l'Avant-Propos de la gigantesque édition, Balzac définit son oeuvre: La Comédie Humaine est la peinture de la société.
Philippe and Joseph Bridau are two extremely different brothers. The elder, Philippe, is a superficially heroic soldier and adored by their mother Agathe. He is nonetheless a bitter figure, secretly gambling away her savings after a brief but glorious career in Napoleon's army. His younger brother Joseph, meanwhile, is fundamentally virtuous - but their mother is blinded to his kindness by her disapproval of his life as an artist. Foolish and prejudiced, Agathe lives on unaware that she is being cynically manipulated by her own favourite child, but will she ever discover which of her sons is truly the black sheep of the family? A dazzling depiction of the power of money and the cruelty of life in nineteenth-century France, The Black Sheep compellingly explores is a compelling exploration of the nature of deceit.
This diptych is part of Honore de Balzac's epic masterpiece, The Human Comedy. It comprises two stories, "Cousin Betty" and "Cousin Pons," each of which delve deeply into complicated family dynamics and the long-lasting impact of seemingly trivial conflicts.
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