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.
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.
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.
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.
If you like your tales of tragic love to come with a stiff dose of historical realism, get ready to savor this classic from French writer Honore de Balzac. The Lily of the Valley tells the tale of star-crossed lovers Felix de Vandenesse and Henriette de Mortsauf. Will social conventions keep them apart, or will they say goodbye to the trappings of the French aristocracy to live together? Pick up this must-read romance to find out.
Known for his keen observations and finely drawn characters, Honore de Balzac is regarded as one of the forerunners of the literary realism movement that swept Europe in the nineteenth century. A Woman of Thirty offers an unflinching look at the layers of social oppression that dictated the course of many women's lives during the era.
One of the unifying themes that wends its way through Honore de Balzac's immense body of work is the corrupting danger of greed -- and the often-absurd lengths to which people will go to secure material wealth. In the wonderful novel Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau, the title character starts out as a successful perfume-maker who is gradually lured to the dark side by the promise of ill-gotten gains.
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