Le père Goriot

ISBN: 2070409341
ISBN 13: 9782070409341
By: Honoré de Balzac

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About this book

« J'ai trouvé une idée merveilleuse. Je serai un homme de génie », s'exclame Balzac au moment où il écrit Le Père Goriot. Il venait d'imaginer La Comédie humaine, ce cycle romanesque dans lequel les mêmes personnages réapparaissent d'un roman à l'autre. Il venait de créer un monde, le monde balzacien.Les plus beaux romans, dit André Maurois, sont des romans d'apprentissage. Les illusions de la jeunesse s'y heurtent au monde féroce et pourtant plein de délices. L'amour devient coquetterie, la vertu s'achète, l'argent ruine tout. Seule la passion balzacienne, ici l'amour paternel, résiste, dévorante et implacable. Le Père Goriot est la clef de voûte d'une œuvre géniale.

Reader's Thoughts


A distinctive element of this novel stems from its compactness. Most of the action takes place at a boarding house or a couple of other locations in Paris. The setup highlights the interaction between people, and the author’s astute observations about human nature set the story off. Balzac’s prose is superb, and his command of detail gives readers a palpable feel for the lives of people so far removed in time (1819) from us.Goriot is a father who, among the fellow boarders, finds that rarest of gems – the perfect son-in-law. Problem is, his daughter’s already married -- to a perfect cad. Maybe the old man can do something to change that, and the action revolves around this effort. The protagonist is the young boarder, a dark-haired law student with foppish designs for whom Goriot’s daughter opens a new world.


Years ago my mum was an English literature professor and my dad a linguist at an university. Ever since I could read beyond the alphabet books I was spoon fed 'serious classic literature'. Mum had a particular passion for all things French, and I read things like The Red and the Black and Madame Bovary before Harry Potter was even published. Like most normal children, I did not enjoy anything over 200 pages with dense text about poverty and woman's fashion and instead resorted to large amount of 'serious classic science fiction' and Gothic literature instead. As a result, I've always carried this fear and 'Urgh, not another painting on the cover Penguin classic again' attitude towards well, 'serious things'. So the other day I came across Pere Goriot and thought, hey, now that I'm over 20, I should maybe grow up and read 'serious' things again. I vaguely recall skimming through my dad's copy when I was 8, but quickly gave up when the afternoon cartoon came on TV. First of all, this is nothing like those old hardcover dust mite infested books my mum used to keep (and still keeps, I suspect). Rather, this is like an episode of Home and Away - a lot of things happen, a lot of drama, internal monologues, speeches, great dialogues and MORE DRAMA. I remember thinking 'Wow, this is great. People used to have such interesting lives.' I was genuinely surprised by how melodramatic yet entertaining the novel was. It has duels, romance, ambitious young man, conspiracy and woman's fashion (now I can actually appreciate it). The characters are fun and even the minor ones are well considered. The last 50 pages are literally mind blowing - the voices were yelling inside my head, everything was a bit delirious and OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING IN A FRENCH 19TH CENTURY NOVEL!!!Now, I must call dad and let him know how much I love Balzac and that one day I may even attempt Proust. One day.


920. Le Père Goriot, Honoré de Balzacبابا گوریو - اونوره دو بالزاک (ققنوس، ...) ادبیات فرانسهاین کتاب را «م.ا. به آذین»، و «ادوارد ژوزف» و «مهدی سحابی» ترجمه کرده اندا. شربیانی


Wikipedia tells me I am hardly the first person to notice the similarity, but as I read Balzac's 1934 novel Père Goriot (translated by Burton Raffel) I couldn't help thinking of it as an early-19th-century French reworking of Shakespeare's King Lear. In the title role is Monsieur (or disrespectfully Père, meaning something like "old" or "Gramps," but also literally "father") Goriot, successful but retired pasta manufacturer who dotes shamelessly and selflessly on his two shallow daughters, Anastasie and Delphine, to whom he can refuse nothing and who have been gradually bleeding him dry for decades. In a sort of combined Kent/Cordelia role is the novel's main character, Eugène Rastignac, a young man recently relocated from the country who aspires to the cutthroat world of Paris high society, meets Goriot in the process, and becomes his somewhat-unlikely champion. An Edmund-like turncoat is present as well in the form of Vautrin, a shady but seductive character who lodges in the same dump as Goriot and Rastignac.Balzac's Comédie humaine (1799-1850) was apparently one of the first instances of the "roman fleuve": a set of linked novels which share a fictional world (think William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, or Louise Erdrich's North Dakotan Ojibwe reservations), and in which readers encounter the same or interrelated characters in multiple novels, from multiple perspectives. In my opinion, several of the most interesting things about Père Goriot, which comes mid-way through the cycle both in terms of composition and chronology, were related to it being part of a larger endeavor. To take one example, Balzac's treatment of Rastignac: it would be easy to write Eugène as either the young naif who becomes utterly self-involved and ends up jilting everyone he used to love (à la Pip in the middle part of Great Expectations), or as the only character pure of heart, who rejects or remains immune to the corruption of Paris society (à la Dobbin and Amelia in Vanity Fair). To his credit, Balzac does neither. Instead, he has Eugène feel the heady thrill of being wealthy in Paris, and lets him pursue that goal in a pretty cold-blooded manner, while simultaneously retaining some sense of principle and self (he doesn't give in to Vautrin's promises of easy money, nor abandon Goriot when it would be convenient to do so). There is a level of ambiguity here, an acknowledgment that people can act and feel in contradictory ways simultaneously, that impressed me.Balzac even sets up some situations that seem obvious signposts to mark Eugène's fall into debauchery: Rastignac borrows money from his mother and sisters, for example, in order to finance his impersonation of a wealthy young gadabout, and I was sure we would see him gamble all his sisters' pocket money away and disappoint his mother by applying for ever more funds. Instead he pays them back almost immediately, even if the money to do so does come from dubious sources and even if he loses it all again afterward. He can believe himself genuinely in love with a woman while also being conscious of wanting her fortune. He is allowed to keep some promises to himself while reneging on others; retain some principles while blithely throwing others away. Even at the novel's end, this ambiguity remains: Rastignac can be quite affected by Goriot's tragedy, and at the same time never waver in his own pursuit of money and power.In a similarly "doubled" way, Balzac drops hints about the man Eugène will become: he will be rich; well-clothed; powerful; known for his cutting turns of phrase; he will be all of these things, but in this particular novel he's none of them. I think the roman fleuve format probably allowed Balzac this leeway—the hints about Rastignac's future career would serve as publicity for future novels—but I found the technique oddly compelling within this single volume, as well. It struck me as a subtler version of the flash-forwarding of which modern authors like Rushdie and Irving are so fond, giving an idea of the scope of a character's future life with just a few strokes of the pen. [I:]n his tailor, Eugène had found a man who understood the genealogical function of the trade, a man who realized that, when he played his cards right, he might well become a basic link between a young man's present life and his future one. And Rastignac, deeply grateful, had in turn made this fellow's fortune with one of those deftly phrased remarks at which, later on, he so excelled:      "I myself," he'd said, "am personally acquainted with two pairs of trousers, made by his hands, which brought about marriages worth twenty thousand francs a year."As the above quote suggests, this novel has much to offer someone who, like me, is interested in the relationship between clothes and identity. People in Père Goriot are forever revealing, concealing, and transforming themselves with costume: Goriot's pathetic rags, Rastignac's mortgaged finery, Vautrin's wig, Anastasie's ruthlessly procured spangled dress. In many cases, as with Vautrin and Rastignac, the clothes are a blatantly false claim, or at the very least a pledge for the future: they are pretending to be what they are not, sometimes in the hope of making the pretense a reality. This fear of artifice creates an interesting tension with some of Balzac's other claims about clothes, however, such as this description of the landlady Mme. Vauquer: ...in short, everything about her seems to embody her pension, just as her pension invokes her image. You can't have a jail without a jailer, the one is unimaginable without the other. This tiny woman's pallid flabbiness stems directly from the life she leads, just as typhus comes from the foul effluvia in hospitals. Her flannel petticoat, hanging out beneath her outer skirt, cut down from an old dress, its cotton quilting protruding through the slits in the frayed, splitting material, is like a summary of the salon, and the dining room, and the garden; it proclaims the kitchen; it warns you what the lodgers will be. Given her presence, the whole spectacle is complete.Here we have an appearance, including items of clothing, that "stems directly from" the life led, developing organically in a way that reveals Mme. Vauquer's character rather than obscuring or misrepresenting it. She is such an integral part of her environment, in fact, that the one is unimaginable without the other—an interesting contrast with characters like Eugène and the Goriot sisters, who use clothing very consciously to ensconce themselves in an alien environment. What most intrigued me about Balzac's approach here is that neither way of life seems particularly privileged, morally: Mme. Vauquer and Anastasie are equally petty and despicable, despite the one's fakery and the other's quality of naturalness. Nor is a lack of artifice necessarily less threatening to those around the artificer: while the liar Vautrin does pose a threat, Rastignac is actually more dangerous to his cousin and the Goriot women before he learns how to dissemble. I can understand why upright turn-of-the-century Iowans like those in The Music Man might feel uncomfortable with this kind of moral laxity, but personally I quite admired Balzac's ability to accept ambiguity and contradiction.


I can only bow to this lucid, forceful, brilliant little novel. Balzac delights with aphorisms and insights into human behavior. He advances a rewarding story with entertaining and fleshy characters. He is everything that a great writer can be - more than a psychologist, more than a philosopher, more than any social scientist can aspire to be - he is everything and better with an exacting eye trained upon the vanity and corruption of men and women alike. This particular book is still relevant to modern lives even though it is from a time so far past that we reflect upon the details as though we're dreaming what never was. The style of writing might strike off-key notes to modern ears - but it is truly a drama and with it we must suspend the disbelief that we willingly do when our physical bodies sit in a theatre. The rewards are worth it - Balzac's intelligence vibrates off the page. Excerpts:"All women obliged to study their husbands' character in order that they themselves may do as they like quickly learn just how far they may go without endangering a trust they prize, and they never cross their husbands in the little things of life." 'The world is vile and malicious,' said the Viscountess at last. 'As soon as misfortune overtakes you there is always a friend ready to come and announce it, and probe your heart with a dagger while bidding you admire the hilt. Sarcasm and mockery already! Ah! but I shall defend myself!.' She raised her head like the great lady she was, and lightning flashed from her proud eyes."He had the luck of all men who have only average ability: his mediocrity was his salvation.""She was waiting impatiently for a glance from him, and thought no one saw how impatient she was. For a man who can see into a woman's heart such a moment is delicious. Who has not taken pleasure in withholding his approval and tantalizingly hiding his delight, in causing disquiet for the sake of extorting a confession of affection, and enjoying the fears he will presently dissipate with a smile?""Women are always true even when their actions appear equivocal, because they are yielding to some natural impulse.""You have to die to know what your children are."


many pre-20th century novels have the nasty habit of presenting their author's beliefs as hard, solid fact. y'know what i mean: sentences which flatly state that 'Women believe' such and such or, as per balzac (pg. 51), "Young men's eyes take everything in; their spirits react to..." (<-- to which i'd argue: no! young men's eyes don't take in shit. and if i was gonna write either/or i'd find some elegant means to qualify it). now, wishy-washy apologetic sentences deserve destruction by sharpie and a knuckle-punch to their author's neck, of course, but those simple, declarative sentences which aim to embody an entire gender or race or people or pathology are almost equally as frustrating. i suppose the confused haze which 20th century modernism and pomo dropped on everything blew all that 'belief = fact' stuff outta the water. once einstein laid it down that the part of the world we see and experience is not only a sliver but vastly different from actual physical reality, when picasso duchamp & warhol redefined art and our relation to the visual world, when freud reconfigured all we did and thought and believed as part of a long and complex causal chain, with marx's (amongst other's) reinterpretation of history, and so on and on... there was little room left for those epic all-encompassing statements. so there's a never-to-be-returned-to place occupied by the great brains of the past few centuries that is now taken up by novelists and creators either skirting the issue altogether or working to make sense of the confusion.so pere goriot. a kind of cross b/t king lear and the giving tree: a kind-hearted old coot gives and gives and gives to some seriously awful daughters until he's flat broke and the aforementioned awfuls are just too busy to make a deathbed drop-by. a well told tale, genuinely felt, if, at times, the machinery was a bit visible, a few too many glimpses of the man behind the curtain... but overall my first balzac was a positive experience. wanna check out cousin bette and colonel chabert. worth noting that within pere goriot there's a great spin-off crime novel waiting to be written. vautrin*, the most entertaining character in the book, is revealed as the notorious criminal nicknamed 'The Death-Dodger' who's part of a gang called The Ten Thousand -- b/c they have ten thousand partner thieves or b/c they'll only heist jobs bigger than ten thousand francs? i get fantomas fever just thinking about a vast network of thieves stalking the streets of paris. sign me up, frère, i'm in. * here goes some of vautrin's dialogue: "You see, I have an idea. My idea is to go off and live like a patriarch in the middle of some big estate, a hundred thousand acres for example, in the United States, in the South. I want to become a planter out there, own slaves, earn a cool few million from the sale of my cattle, tobacco, and timber, living like a king, doing whatever I want, leading the sort of life you can't imagine here, where people hide away in burrows made of plaster. I am a great poet. My poetry is not something I write down, it is composed of action and emotions. At this moment I possess fifty thousand francs, which would hardly buy me forty niggers. I need two hundred thousand, because I want two hundred niggers to satisfy my taste for the patriarchal life. Niggers, do you see? They are children, but fully grown, and you can do what you like with them without some Public Prosecutor coming along to ask you questions."


I colori della tavolozza stanno ad un pittore, così come le parole stanno a Balzac il quale, con un tocco di pennello, ha disegnato l'umanità del diciannovesimo secolo parigino, ma in realtà anche quella del ventunesimo secolo italiano, e del diciottesimo inglese. Come un sommozzatore scandaglia il fondo marino, così Balzac è stato in grande di scandagliare l'animo umano arrivando nel fondo più profondo e descrivendo maschere sociali che, nella vita di tutti i giorni, smettono di mimare se stesse per diventare le persone che ci circondano, o che siamo.'Papà Goriot' è un palco sul quale si succedono, inseguono e sfuggono una serie di personaggi talmente ben descritti e approfonditi che sembra di conoscerli da sempre e di vederli mentre partecipano a balli, risiedono in una squallida pensione borghese, si travestono da buoni cittadini essendo invece pericolosi criminali. E' forte e viscerale l'empatia che si percepisce nel venire a conoscenza delle vicende di questi nostri personaggi verso i quali è inevitabile provare pena, rabbia, disapprovazione, voglia di entrare nel romanzo e prenderli a schiaffi. Da una parte la Parigi dei balli, dei titoli, delle rendite, dei matrimoni combinati, dall'altra quella dei pensionanti di casa Vauquer dove persino la carta da parati ricorda la grettezza della vita dei poveri. I due volti di Parigi sono, nel romanzo di Balzac, intimamente legati dal segreto di un padre e le sue due figlie, in maniera inspiegabile rispettivamente pastaio, contessa e baronessa. Il sangue versato da uno, il suo sudore, i suoi sacrifici si trasformano, per una logica perversa e tuttavia giustificata da un amore paterno cieco, in diamanti, carrozze, mussoline, vestiti di stoffe pregiate delle altre. Uno residente nella suddetta pensione, le altre in dimore decorate con sfarzo e lusso. A rendere noto questo legame e a fungere da ponte tra questo padre dilaniato e queste figlie meschine è Eugene de Rastignac, studente di legge che proviene da un paese di campagna dove, al contrario di quanto succede a Parigi, regnano ancora i valori puri della famiglia, dell'amore sincero, del sacrificio come forma d'amore, e non di sfruttamento. Rastignac, avvolto dall'atmosfera parigina, vuole infilare gli artigli nella società aristocratica, inserirsi puntando le sue radici nel più alto borgo parigino. E', insomma, un arrampicatore sociale.Personaggi, quindi, senza alcuna morale, disposti ad ottenere ciò che vogliono a qualunque costo, impoverire un padre, privare la propria famiglia del cibo pur di avere dei guanti nuovi, personaggi le cui colpe vengono aggravate dall'ipocrisia, dal nascondere a se stessi e agli altri le proprie azioni miserevoli con giustificazioni che mettono a tacere anche l'ombra dei rimorsi. Ad elevarsi rispetto a questa massa deforme, è Vautrin, uomo sfinge dal passato misterioso, che non ha paura né di commettere azioni scellerate, né di confessarle, né di rendere nota la meschina morale che lo porta ad essere attore di tali malvagi sceneggiati. Ed è anche Madame de Beauseant, viscontessa ancora capace di amare di quell'amore privo di interessi, la cui esistenza è fine solo a se stessa.Parigi ieri, come il mondo oggi e sempre. Balzac punta il dito contro tutti i personaggi, li smaschera e li accusa, accusa il lettore con le sue intuizioni vere e forti che rendono chiaro come la morale umana, il contratto sociale siano solo il frutto di interessi individuali, mai di interessi rivolti al benessere generale. Forse abbiamo dismesso le vesti aristocratiche per indossare i jeans, comunichiamo per sms e tramite mail, e non con biglietti mandati dal servetto di turno, ma anche noi siamo parte di quella 'Commedia umana' che Balzac aveva intenzione di descrivere in un imponente ciclo di romanzi che mette a nudo i difetti del nostro animo. Della nostra invidia, della nostra sete di vendetta e di rivalsa. Balzac ha giudicato gli uomini del suo tempo, ma giudica anche coloro che leggono nel 2011. Incisivo e forte spiraglio per la riflessione, 'Papà Goriot' ha ancora tanto da dire, quindi, ascoltatelo.

Justin Bendana

Perhaps it is a good time as ever to read such a book as Old Goriot. Well, I am 20 years old, young, ambitious, a novice, and most of all innocent to the ways of how society works. Of course, I will feel much inclined to like the character of young Eugene Rastignac. Like Eugene, I wanted to be accepted into the upper echelon of society by entering into the legal profession as my parents and i have always dreamed of, but I wanted most of all to be accepted in so called 'modern society' through the trials and tribulations of such a venture as love. However much like to the demise of Eugene's love interest with Madame de Nucigen, I too have had fallen in love with somebody with much of a character of the same caliber. (view spoiler)[At the end of the novel as Eugene watched the one sincere character in the novel 'Old Goriot' in his last resting place. Balzac writes "he looked at the grave, and in that place the last tear of his youth was shed. It was a tear that had its source in the sacred emotions of an innocent heart, one of those tears whose radiance springs from the ground where they fall and reaches the gates of Heaven. He folded his arms, staring at the clouded sky", I had shed that same tear as all of us one time in our young adult life had shed. So there I was and I "eyed that humming hive with a look that foretold its despoliation, as if he already felt on his lips the sweetness of its honey, and said with superb defiance,'It's war between us now!' " As I cast away my own youthful outlook into the world into the empty voids of my past thoughts, I too have declared my own war against modern society in all its baseness, callousness, vanity, and insincerity. A las! my dear friends I have "by way of throwing down the gauntlet to Society", I will begin life anew being cautious for the things that I hold dear to me such as honesty, sincerity, and love, from most of all those who had lost it and wish nothing more to plunder it. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


"Jamais une oeuvre plus majesteuesement terrible n'a commandé le cerveau humaine," Balzac wrote in 1834. Almost certainly so! Two main stories cross in this great novel: the story of a young, ambitious provincial, Eugène de Rastignac, who loses innocence in the complex society and moral corruption of Paris; and the tragic story of Old Goriot, who has destroyed himself financially for two daughters who care not at all for him--this latter story somewhat reminiscent of "King Lear." For someone who both loves and fears Paris, as this part-time resident does, the "City of Lights" itself almost functions as the key character in this work. Balzac's comments on Paris, particularly upper-class Parisian society, are magnificent . . . and devilish: "I defy you to walk a couple of yards anywhere in Paris without stumbling on some infernal complication" (p. 90); "Surely Paris ignores the existence of these faces bleached by moral or physical suffering; but then Paris is in truth an ocean that no line can plumb" (p. 10); "life in Paris is one continual battle" (p. 70); "You have to sit up at night, it seems, if you really want to know all that is going on about you in Paris" (p. 31), etc. And the novel, after all, culminates with Eugène now thoroughly disillusioned, climbing to the heights of Montmarte, looking out over Paris and famously saying, "A nous deux maitenant!" which is rather loosely translated in the Everyman's Library edition as "We'll fight this out, you and I" (I would translate something like, "It's down to the two of us now!") "Old Goriot" is in many ways also a companion novel to "Eugenie Grandet." Both, like so much 19th century literature, is fundamentally about the woes of economic transaction. "Eugenie Grandet" is a story of the destructiveness of a father's stinginess; "Old Goriot" about the destructiveness of a father's generosity. The latter, in the end, is far more tragic . . . as terrible as anything the human brain has conceived, to paraphrase the great author!


"Lord, this world of yours is so badly made!"- GoriotSupremely melodramatic, fierce, sweeping, lurid, and a little gay, Goriot is a kickass novel. The most famous of Balzac's encyclopedic Comédie humaine, a series of linked stories and 91 novels that I'm not sure has ever been paralleled, this installment crams into 300 pages about six different stories and a view of Parisian life in the early 1800s that swoops from bird's eye to microscopic detail, excluding nothing. "Paris is an ocean," says Balzac: "Heave in the lead as often as you like, you'll never sound the depths." And then he proceeds to do exactly that.The incomparable Vautrin muscles his way through all that to take over; he's easily the best part, and one of the great characters in all of literature. Savage, cynical, brilliant, his speeches are electrifying: "Only two courses of action are possible: slavish obedience or revolt...You must either plough through this mass of men like a cannonball or creep among them." He nurses toward Rastignac, the ostensible protagonist for whom you are unlikely to feel much affection, some kind of (probably unrequited) love. And I bring this up because I think it's fascinating that Balzac did this: make a central character gay - not totally explicitly, but not really arguably either - and then not particularly dwell on it. It's just a thing about Vautrin. That's sortof great, right? I'm not clear on whether Balzac himself may have been bi. He spent a lot of money on tailors, so.Vautrin gets the best speech of the book, but Madame Beauséant is given a terrific one first: "Accept that men and women are post-horses that you ride into he ground then leave at each stage, and you'll reach the pinnacle of your desire...Go now, and leave me. We women have our own battles to fight." The whole thing is just, like, a pathos bomb.The translation by Olivia McCannon was just okay for me; I felt like there were passages she translated too literally, so that they flowed awkwardly. Here's an example: "The comtesse looked at Eugene, who stood there, stunned at the violence of the scene: 'Monsieur,' she said, with a challenging gesture, tone of voice, and expression, paying no attention to her father, whose waistcoat Delphine had quickly unbuttoned." See? It's not disastrous, it's just sortof...ugh, wtf, I'm gonna have to read that twice to figure out what she's even saying. Burton Raffel also did a translation, and people seem high on him; I wish I'd gone that route instead.Update / Retraction: But a French-speaking buddy gives me the original French for the above passage: "La comtesse regarda Eugène, qui restait immobile, abasourdi par la violence de cette scène. — Monsieur, lui dit-elle en l'interrogeant du geste, de la voix et du regard, sans faire attention à son père dont le gilet fut rapidement défait par Delphine." See how that triplet - "gesture, tone of voice, and expression" - is actually straight from Balzac? It's not actually McCannon being awkward here; she's faithfully reproducing Balzac's awkwardness. (And, I'm told, Balzac was really into triplets; that was just a thing he had.) I take it back; this is a good job.

Riku Sayuj

The Importance of Being CynicalRastignac’s education is the theme of the novel — provided at the expense of Père Goriot, who built up a fortune from nothing, married his daughters into wealth and was duly ignored and left to die a lonely death. This clear tragedy tells Rastignac, and perhaps France itself, what it takes to succeed in a Capitalist World: ruthlessness and a complete apathy to moral sentiments. As Vautrin explains to Rastignac, it is illusory to think that social success can be achieved through study, talent, and effort — you can never get anywhere worthwhile by slaving your life away earning an honest living out of your education and skills. All you need is cynicism. Père Goriot was a great teacher. Nothing else could have convinced Rastignac. P.S. This short review is inspired by Thomas Piketty’s analysis of the novel in Capital in the Twenty-First Century, to help explain the structure of wealth in Europe in the era under study: “… the structure of the income and wealth hierarchies in nineteenth-century France was such that the standard of living the wealthiest French people could attain greatly exceeded that to which one could aspire on the basis of income from labor alone. Under such conditions, why work? And why behave morally at all? Since social inequality was in itself immoral and unjustified, why not be thoroughly immoral and appropriate capital by whatever means are available?” This clarified the unease the reviewer had felt towards Balzac’s message. Was it that Rastignac should be pitied? Or was he a hope that even a complete cynic once had hope and could have taken a different turn? Or was it that if only the Goriots could be treated better the Rastignacs might find more motivation to stick it out in honorable professions? Or was it that all pretensions to live a up-and-comer middle-class life is buying into the capitalist illusion? Piketty’s small piece on the novel helped this reviewer finally place the novel.


I expected to like this book more, and I didn't absolutely love it perhaps because this is a precurser to the works of Hugo and Zola whose novels I really love, and somehow less refined -- in short, I was kind of disappointed, and I know this author and love him but haven't read him in a while so this may be something too. Here's what I did love: the translator, Ellen Marriage; portrayals (and utterances) of Vautrin and Eugene; despite a slow start, the author's eternal truths interspersed throughout and Balzac's ultra-sharp merciless observation of his society. The end notes and appendix in this edition are imperative, particularly if a reader intends to read other books of the human comedy and keep the characters straight. I'll reread this when I'm in a more receptive frame of mind, and less impatient with Balzac's rather hollow characterizations and my distaste for the caricatures of Goriot, who doesn't learn, and his daughters, who are simply awful. But right now I'm giving it a lowish 4.


This is a grand novel from the old school, pre-Hemingway: long passages of description, speeches that go on for a page, the seeking of fortunes by marrying rich men or women, dowries, and deathbed scenes. But I enjoyed this 1834 novel by Honore de Balzac, the first book I had read of this French author. The novel painstakingly depicts life in Paris after the fall of Napoleon and the Bourbon restoration, the class divisions, the poverty of most of the residents, and the status-seeking of the rich. There are no total heroes or villains in this novel; everyone gets morally soiled.

محمد حسين ضاحي

كان الممثل الفرنسى جيرار دوبارديو: هو الذى قام بطولة الفيلم الذى يحكى قصة حياة الروائى الفرنسى بلزاك:وكان هذا الفيلم أول معرفتى ببلزاك منذ عشر سنوات أو يزيد. وأحببت شخصيته أو إتقان الممثل لدوره، وإبداعه فيه.ثم قرأت هذه الرواية وقد قيل أنها قمة العمل الواقعى.والواقعية فى الأدب هى محاولة تصوير الحياة تصويراً واقعياً دون إغراق في المثاليات، أو جنوح صوب الخيال. وقد أصبحت الواقعية وفي فرنسا القرن التاسع عشر حركة أدبية، تعارض الحركة الرومانسية. وحاول بعض الروائيين من أمثال فلوبير في روايته «مدام بوفاري» تصوير ما هو وضيع وتافه، بقدر ما حاول تصوير ما هو نبيل ورفيع. وكان فلوبير يصر على إقصاء انفعالات الكاتب عن العمل الأدبي. ويعتبر أونوريه دي بلزاك- مع فلوبير، مؤسس الواقعية في الأدب الأوروبي. وإنتاجه الغزير من الروايات والقصص يسمى في مجموعه الكوميديا الإنسانية، وكان بمثابة بانوراما للمجتمع الفرنسي في فترة عودة الملكية (1815-1830) وملكية يوليو (1830-1848). ورسم أونوريه دو بلزاك صورة واسعة للمجتمع فى وقته مثل المقاطعات والشباب الطموح.أعجبتنى القصة، رغم أنى وجدت فيها نوعا من التشاؤم أو النظرة السوداوية للحياة، وهو ما ألمح إليه المؤلف فى تفسير وجهة نظر بعض الشخصيات ووصفهم بأنهم من أتباع الفلسفة الكلبية أو الشكوكية. ومع ذلك إنى أعتبر أنها بها مسحة رومانسية ربما تتمثل فى مشاعر الأب نحو الابنتين والتضحية التى يقدمها مقابل العقوق الذى لا مبرر له حتى لو كان أساء تربيتهما بتدليلهما زيادة عن اللزوم، وهى تميل للتشاؤم فى رأيى لأنها لم تنتهى بعقاب البنتين على سوئهما بما يكفى، ولأن البطل لم يصل لنهاية إذ ترك الأمر مفتوحا للقارئ أن يخمن.

Lynne King

A beautiful classic that everyone loves but not for me.I loved the "Peau de chagrin" - by Balzac - my best essay at university. A true shame in this respect and I must confess it bothers me. All I can say is that tastes change with time...

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