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


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.


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.


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.

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...


Some King Lear comparisons have to be inevitable: about a rather stupid, annoying but devoted father to two spoilt and rapacious daughters who bleed him dry. Eugene de Rastignac, a young and handsome student's choices are followed, too. He is often found in a position of having to make choices between his ambitions and his sense of honour; his existence seems to be an uneasy combination of the two. The want for money is a big theme, and the hotbed of social ambition that Paris was. Balzac's rich and almost bejewelled realistic descriptions can be wonderful, especially his descriptions of the boarding house, the impecunious Maison Vauquer at the beginning. I found the ending good in a cathartic way: full of complex pathos, emotion, and some of the somewhat horrifying reality of people. 3.5/5.

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.


Pere Goriot is a book that one feels compelled to admire, but I can't say that it gave me very much pleasure as I read it, and enjoyment is important. This classic novel gives a vivid view of Parisian society and life in 1819. The details, textures, of life are interesting -- and of course the values. As in many 19th century novels, the story is about money and what people will do for it. Almost anything --betrayal, selfishness. I think the book has been seen as a rewriting of King Lear -- but who is Cordelia? The eponymous Pere Goriot has two hideous daughters, and that leaves only Rastignac (Eugene) as the faithful one. The structure of the book isn't perfect; the subplot of Victorine, the girl in the boarding house who inherits money) isn't as well-realized as it could be. It doesn't play out fully, doesn't unfold. Finally, it's a book that I respect more than savor.

Matteo Di Maggio

È proprio grazie a papà Goriot che capisci il vero amore di un padre verso i propri figli! Un capolavoro ottocentesco e post rivoluzionario che marchia la vecchia società parigina come spietata e discriminante verso le persone più umili, come appunto il Goriot.Il suo amore e la sua devozione rappresentano un grande esempio di umanità, di rispetto verso la famiglia.Papà Goriot è veramente un capolavoro!

Lydia Presley

Original review posted hereThis book floored me. I mean, jaw on the floor, gaping as I read, type of floored me. Who knew Balzac could be so approachable? I picked up this book fully expecting to struggle through it, much like my earlier trials with Middlemarch, and instead I found myself thoroughly intrigued by this drama. And Balzac himself, as narrator of the story of Father Goriot, calls it a drama, although he hastens to explain that it isn’t quite the same as those other dramas of the time.The word drama has been somewhat discredited of late; it has been overworked and twisted to strange uses in these days of dolorous literature; but it must do service again here, not because this story is dramatic in the restricted sense of the word, but because some tears may perhaps be shed intra et extra muros before it is over. – Father Goriot by BalzacThe story is focused around two characters – Father Goriot and a young, law student named Eugene Rastignac. They are acquainted by being one of several boarders in a respectable, if a bit shabby, boarding house in Paris, France. Goriot is the father of two married daughters, and Rastignac is, at the expense of his parents and two sisters, attempting to marry into society and wealth – but in a respectful way!This drama has everything – murder and intrigue through the character of Vautrin, the Trick of Death. It has humor – there is an entire scene which made me think of our modern day Snoop Dog “shizzle” moments – Balzac talks about how the diorama has recently been unveiled, and as a result, in passing, humorous conversation, the morpheme “orama” is added to the end of random words – such as Goriot-orama. There is an entire scene at the dinner table in which words are bantered about, and even referenced later in the book that had me laughing out loud in sheer delight. It has tragedy – the outcome of Father Goriot and his daughters relationship is one that, as Balzac foretells, worthy of tears. It showcases both the good and bad sides of the human character, and provides an interesting commentary on situations and feelings that are relevant still today.Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another’s happiness than in your own – BalzacThe human heart may find here and there a resting-place short of the highest height of affection, but we seldom stop in the steep, downward slope of hatred - BalzacI wish I could go further into the quotes and how many things I highlighted on my Kindle – but then this entire review would be just repeated quote after quote, since there are quite a few of them. I have to encourage you to pick up this book and read it – I hope you will find it as fascinating as I did. Such an incredible story of the tragedy of life.


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.


Balzac, Honore de, PERE GORIOT (1834) I had no expectations of this l9th century French effort by the prolific Balzac, but it's a fine novel, as timely now as when it was written. The question it raises is one of how a parent shows his love for his children. In Goriot's case, as with many parents today, it was to try to give the children every advantage in life he could. In his case, the resource most at his disposal was money and what it could provide. Goriot is a plain man, lacking social connections in the Paris where he finds himself in his old age. But he has made a lot of money in the grain trade, and so his way of helping his two daughters, Anastasia and Delphine, is by giving them money, and of course, they both attract men to whom money is important. They marry these men, and both become victims of loveless marriages. One is married to a gambler who squanders the money, and the other to a man who gets control of his wife's money and gives her a pittance of an allowance. They are both socially ambitious, and the mainteance of appearances – clothing, balls, parties - is everything to them. Their widowed father moves to Paris to be near them but discovers that his sons-in-law find him embarrassing and refuse to let him in their houses. Of course, the daughters stay in contact with him, visiting him in his shabby rooming house, but it's as much to continue getting money from him as out of any daughterly love. They're not evil women, just weak and foolish, and are always making resolutions that they should be kinder to their old father. Goriot knows he's made mistakes rasiing them, commenting that "I sinned through love, I spoiled them," and asks the question, "Why could they not always be little girls?" when they were innocent and sweet. In spite of their indifference and even cruelty to him, if he cuts them off, he knows he will have no contact with them at all, and what dos he gain from that? As he says, "My real life is in my two girls." In the end he dies penniless and abandoned by his daughters who both find excuses for ignoring his death and his funeral. With him, though, is Eugene Rastignac, a young man from the provinces who lives in Goriot's rooming house. He is determined to make his way up in Parisian society, even though it is described as an "ocean of mud," referring as much to its corruption as to its physical aspects. He decides quickly that three things are important - youth, wealth, and social rank, and one has to act fast to attain these. He borrows money from his mother and sisters, all struggling too make ends meet in the provinces, buys some fancy clothes, and he is on his way, soon meeting and beginning an affair with the married Delphine. Now he has a double connection with Goriot, both through the rooming house and through his daughter. The rooming house, interestingly provides a way for Balzac to expand his examination of this l830’s post-Napoleonic society to all levels. It is made up of people who are barely hanging on. Money is crucially important to these people, too, but in their lower social strata, it is for the necessities of life – heat, food, shelter. It includes a criminal mastermind who instantly and cynically sees through Rastignac and makes him, with all of his pretensions, very uncomfortable. Eugene becomes fond of Goriot and at the end of the book faces a moral crisis - does he turn his back on decadence and stand up for decency, knowing it means hardship and an abandonment of a life of luxury? Or does he give in to the soft life? He goes off to dinner with his mistress in a beautifully understated ending. And Goriot? He gets a pauper's burial at Pere Lachaise cemetery


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


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.


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.


The legend of Balzac- the 3-day writing marathons fueled by gallons of coffee, the monks robe, the ridiculously grandiose ambition, the secret passage leading to a back alley used to flee from his creditors- is a most delightful one, and so I was hoping to like this, his most famous book, rather better than I did. Oscar Wilde claimed that Balzac invented the 19th century, which is probably true, but Flaubert's comment rings truer: "What a man he would have been if only he'd known how to write". He's undeniably a pleasant and engaging companion, if more than a little pompous and bombastic, and the book is a quite pleasant and enjoyable read, and most of the scenes were quite vivid and strikingly well observed, but the plot seemed rather thin, none of the characters really seemed to come alive, and the general tone was so melodramatic and so full of unnecessary asides consisting of nothing more than long strings of cliched truisms as to make it at times almost unreadable. Helas!

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