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Le Père Goriot

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Le Père Goriot est un roman d'Honoré de Balzac, écrit en 1834, dont la publication débute dans la Revue de Paris et qui paraît en 1835 en librairie. Il fait partie des Scènes de la vie privée de la Comédie humaine. Le Père Goriot établit les bases de ce qui deviendra un véritable édifice: la Comédie humaine, construction littéraire unique en son genre, avec des liens entre Le Père Goriot est un roman d'Honoré de Balzac, écrit en 1834, dont la publication débute dans la Revue de Paris et qui paraît en 1835 en librairie. Il fait partie des Scènes de la vie privée de la Comédie humaine. Le Père Goriot établit les bases de ce qui deviendra un véritable édifice: la Comédie humaine, construction littéraire unique en son genre, avec des liens entre les volumes, des passerelles, des renvois.


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Le Père Goriot est un roman d'Honoré de Balzac, écrit en 1834, dont la publication débute dans la Revue de Paris et qui paraît en 1835 en librairie. Il fait partie des Scènes de la vie privée de la Comédie humaine. Le Père Goriot établit les bases de ce qui deviendra un véritable édifice: la Comédie humaine, construction littéraire unique en son genre, avec des liens entre Le Père Goriot est un roman d'Honoré de Balzac, écrit en 1834, dont la publication débute dans la Revue de Paris et qui paraît en 1835 en librairie. Il fait partie des Scènes de la vie privée de la Comédie humaine. Le Père Goriot établit les bases de ce qui deviendra un véritable édifice: la Comédie humaine, construction littéraire unique en son genre, avec des liens entre les volumes, des passerelles, des renvois.

30 review for Le Père Goriot

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    Our heart is a treasury; if you spend all its wealth at once you are ruined. We find it as difficult to forgive a person for displaying his feelings in all its nakedness as we do to forgive a man for being penniless. Old Goriot is the first book I have read by Balzac and it took me completely by surprise. I must confess that the irony of the series title - La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy) - was initially lost on me and I had no idea I was about to open one of the most depressing books I ha Our heart is a treasury; if you spend all its wealth at once you are ruined. We find it as difficult to forgive a person for displaying his feelings in all its nakedness as we do to forgive a man for being penniless. Old Goriot is the first book I have read by Balzac and it took me completely by surprise. I must confess that the irony of the series title - La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy) - was initially lost on me and I had no idea I was about to open one of the most depressing books I have ever read. Star ratings always feel woefully inadequate. Did I like this book? Did I enjoy it? Not in the slightest. It made me miserable and anxious. The detailed descriptions of places and people are dreary, or else grotesque. This story of an ageing man who is losing everything, growing older and poorer and more ridiculed by those around him, all as a result of his own selflessness, well, it's painful to read. It is a story which feels just so terribly... unfair. That's what it is. It's not fair. I felt a bit like a foot-stomping, wailing toddler reading this book because everything seemed so very unfair. And yet, I guess I must in some way like wallowing in this misery because I could not stop reading in wide-eyed horror. Enjoyable it may not be, but compelling it definitely was. Balzac begins with a richly-detailed description of Madame Vaquer's dismal boarding house. Into this wander our characters. A couple of older men and women, a young woman cut off from her father's fortune, a criminal in hiding, Eugène de Rastignac - a young and ambitious student, and Monsieur Goriot, who is known by the more mocking name of "Old Goriot". This latter is regarded with ridicule by his fellow boarders as someone who has blown his money on mistresses and other frivolities. Eugène de Rastignac's social ambitions lead him to uncover the truth about Old Goriot, a truth which he uses to his own advantage. Balzac was writing about a very interesting time in French society, offering not-so-subtle criticisms of the ruthless social ambitions people held. Madame de Beauseant tells us: The more cold-blooded your calculations, the further you will go. Strike ruthlessly; you will be feared. Men and women for you must be nothing more than post-horses; take a fresh relay, and leave the last to drop by the roadside; in this way you will reach the goal of your ambition. Old Goriot is a victim of this emerging culture, blinded by an unconditional love for those too concerned with social climbing to give him the time of day. It is a bleak picture that the author paints-- one where money, social status, fancy clothes and upper-class balls have become far more important than love and kindness. Expect misery from start to finish, and one instance of particularly revolting racism. I'm making it sound wonderful, aren't I? I guess it all depends whether you read to feel good or read to have your heart ripped out. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    920. Le Père Goriot = Father Goriot = Old Goriot = Old Man Goriot, Honoré de Balzac Le Père Goriot, Old Goriot or Father Goriot, is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Scènes de la vie privée section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac. ب 920. Le Père Goriot = Father Goriot = Old Goriot = Old Man Goriot, Honoré de Balzac Le Père Goriot, Old Goriot or Father Goriot, is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), included in the Scènes de la vie privée section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac. بابا گوریو - اونوره دو بالزاک انتشاراتیها: (اکیرکبیر، کتابهای جیبی، ققنوس، دوستان، بنگاه نشر و ترجمه، علمی فرهنگی؛ فرخی، گلشائی - ارغوان، نشر مرکز، ...) ادبیات فرانسه؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: در ماه دسامبر سال 1978 میلادی عنوان: بابا گوریو؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: م.ا. به آذین؛ تهران، سازمان کتابهای جیبی، چاپ چهارم 1341،در 329 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، دوستان، 1382، در 280 ص، چاپ یازدهم: 1389، شابک: 9789646207219؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، امیرکبیر، چاپ پنجم 1391، در 295 ص، شابک: 9789640014943؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی - سده 19 م عنوان: بابا گوریو؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: ادوارد ژزف؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، چاپ دوم 1341،در 359 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، علمی فرهنگی، چاپ ششم 1393، شابک: 9786001216343؛ عنوان: بابا گوریو؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: بهروز بهزاد؛ تهران، فرخی، 1347،در 444 ص؛ عنوان: بابا گوریو؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: شهرام پورانفر؛ تهران، گلشائی - ارغوان، 1368،در 408 ص؛ عنوان: بابا گوریو؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: مهدی سحابی؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1388، در 352 ص؛ شابک: 9789642130566؛ اثری گرانقدر است از نویسنده ی فرانسوی: اونوره دو بالزاک، که با طرح داستان پدری فداکار و از خود گذشته، شهر پاریس، محافل و مجالس اعیان و ثروتمندان تا پانسیونهای اجاره ای در بدترین کوچه های شهر را، با واژه های خویش، به تماشای چشم خوانشگران میگذارد. راستینیاک نماینده ی بالزاک در این داستان است، برخی خواسته اند بابا گوریو را داستان پدر بدبختی بدانند، که دخترانش همه ی محبت و فداکاری پدر خویش را با ناسپاسی پاسخ میگویند. گوریو بدی و زشتکاری دخترانش را به جان میخرد، تا چهره ی آن دو را پاک و تابناک در دل خویش نگاه دارد. به موازات سرگذشت گوریو داستان دیگری نیز پیش میرود که همچو داستان نخست شورانگیز است. داستان آشنایی راستینیاک جوان ساده ی شهرستانی، با زندگی در شهر پاریس...؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    No doubts on my part. This novel deserves a 5-star rating. Challenge my rating if you want and I know I can defend it, tooth and nail. At first, this seems to be just a story of an old man, Pere Goriot and how he ends up in the pupper's grave despite being a rich businessman when he's still strong. His fault is that he loves and cares for his 2 spoiled uncaring ungrateful daughters who get all his riches and in the end don't even care going to his deathbed. However, that plot seems to be just sec No doubts on my part. This novel deserves a 5-star rating. Challenge my rating if you want and I know I can defend it, tooth and nail. At first, this seems to be just a story of an old man, Pere Goriot and how he ends up in the pupper's grave despite being a rich businessman when he's still strong. His fault is that he loves and cares for his 2 spoiled uncaring ungrateful daughters who get all his riches and in the end don't even care going to his deathbed. However, that plot seems to be just secondary to the story of a young man, Eugene de Rastignac who uses all the opportunities for him to climb the social ladder. That makes this novel partly a bildungsroman and should have inspired James Joyce to write A Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist. Part of this climb is one of Goriot's daughters, Delphine. The good thing about Rastignac is that even if he uses other people, he is also a caring and sensitive man. He and the houseboy, Christophe are the ones who stay by Goriot's side and finance his burial. Maybe I am already old and a father myself so I felt so sad reading the lamentations of the dying poor Goriot. My heart ached while he says this to Eugene about his daughters refusing to visit him: "God, if I could only hold their hands in mine, I would not feel any pain at all. Do you think they'll come?" I have read stories where a dying person asked somebody, usually a loved one, to hold his hand while he breathed his last because he was afraid. It should be the same feeling when we were kids and we wanted our parents to hold our hands as we walked outside for the first time. We were afraid. As for literary significance, Le Pere Goriot started the use of recurring characters and the story goes that the eureka moment happened when Balzac was writing this and declared that he thought we would be rich because of the idea. In this novel, the characters of Eugene de Rastignac and Vautrin, among others, appear in his succeeding works. Le Pere Goriot is also said to be the finest of Balzac's other works and it also started the idea of grouping these works into what he termed as La Comedie Humaine or Human Comedy which was a parody of Dante's Divine Comedy. The Human Comedy is composed of 90+ works by Balzac and they depict the slices of Parisian lives during Balzac's time (1799-1850). Surprisingly, the writing is easy to understand and definitely not archaic. The parts involving Vautrin particularly the plot to kill the husband of a rich wife that Rastignac can marry at first gave me that feeling that this would be a crime thriller but it was just used to illustrate what Rastignac could be capable of doing to be rich. In the end, true to the bildungsroman form, when he looks back at Paris, having shed a tear for Old Goriot, he says: "Now, it's between you and me" and we know that he has just transformed to a better man. Oh dear, my first Balzac and definitely will not be my last. My only problem is that he has 90+ more like this in his Le Comedie Humaine and how I could finish all those before I die. Considering that I still have 800+ 1001 books to read, I need to live up to 100 to finish everything.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    The Importance of Being Cynical Rastignac’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 ach The Importance of Being Cynical Rastignac’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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mon

    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 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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Pere Goriot (1835), Honore de Balzac's novel centered on French society after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and subsequent restoration of the Bourbons is impressively/exhaustively detailed. Through an analysis of families, marriage and institutions, Balzac presents fully realized characters from diverse backgrounds. When reading this novel, you do feel immersed in the upheaval of French society. That immersion extends to the characters, so many characters--their motivations, social climbing Pere Goriot (1835), Honore de Balzac's novel centered on French society after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and subsequent restoration of the Bourbons is impressively/exhaustively detailed. Through an analysis of families, marriage and institutions, Balzac presents fully realized characters from diverse backgrounds. When reading this novel, you do feel immersed in the upheaval of French society. That immersion extends to the characters, so many characters--their motivations, social climbing (here a major theme), virtues and pettiness. In the end, you (I) want to scream at Goriot to not give all his money to his daughters. Ah, wasted breath! Overall, I found Pere Goriot an exhausting but rewarding experience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Another of the great books written by Balzac with one of his favourite characters, the ambitious Rastignac and the mega-villain Vautrin (who would give the Joker a run for his money!) is a page turner. It was also an inspiration to Mario Puzo when he wrote The Godfather. Like Illusions Perdues, it is a bildungsroman where Rastignac rises to power (and later as an old man becomes the protagonist of Le Peau de Chagrin). One of the high points of 19th C French literature, this book is a fascinating Another of the great books written by Balzac with one of his favourite characters, the ambitious Rastignac and the mega-villain Vautrin (who would give the Joker a run for his money!) is a page turner. It was also an inspiration to Mario Puzo when he wrote The Godfather. Like Illusions Perdues, it is a bildungsroman where Rastignac rises to power (and later as an old man becomes the protagonist of Le Peau de Chagrin). One of the high points of 19th C French literature, this book is a fascinating and fun read not to be missed!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    These relics are historical artifacts to be marveled at for prolonged semi-meditative snatches of time, are essential to readers' educations. I found much of value in this, my first novel by Balzac, mostly in how sad sociological circumstances can be, & how nothing much changes when money is the main ingredient in how a person's fate shall be. This is a tragedy, perhaps not as Shakespearean as one would like (or ironic--it naturally follows its predestined course the entire time), but it IS f These relics are historical artifacts to be marveled at for prolonged semi-meditative snatches of time, are essential to readers' educations. I found much of value in this, my first novel by Balzac, mostly in how sad sociological circumstances can be, & how nothing much changes when money is the main ingredient in how a person's fate shall be. This is a tragedy, perhaps not as Shakespearean as one would like (or ironic--it naturally follows its predestined course the entire time), but it IS full of woe-is-meisms and melancholy in the treatment of one human from one class to another. & the surplus description that's a signiture of Balzac, is no detractor; in being so faithful with his worlds and rooms of wondrous decrepitude it paints a world no longer alive (though themes are eternal) as well as a type of novel no longer being written.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line? HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is? TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’ SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line? HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is? TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. - Interview with Donald Trump, 2017 We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We've got some guys that really, really love golf, and they're really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time. - Interview with Eric Trump, 2014 Le secret des grandes fortunes sans cause apparente est un crime oublié, parce qu’il a été proprement fait. - Honoré de Balzac, Le père Goriot, 1835

  10. 4 out of 5

    brian

    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 sharpi 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."

  11. 4 out of 5

    david

    I am seventeen. There are a bunch of us in a nondescript classroom within an office building in the industrial northeast. It is our final day of Transcendental Meditation class and we are about to receive our “mantra.” One of the mentors, an old man (probably thirty years or less) leans over and whispers in my ear a short, unfamiliar sound. We are to fixate on it, repeat it, over and again, for eighteen minutes. We are instructed to rid ourselves of all other thoughts that attempt to creep in and to I am seventeen. There are a bunch of us in a nondescript classroom within an office building in the industrial northeast. It is our final day of Transcendental Meditation class and we are about to receive our “mantra.” One of the mentors, an old man (probably thirty years or less) leans over and whispers in my ear a short, unfamiliar sound. We are to fixate on it, repeat it, over and again, for eighteen minutes. We are instructed to rid ourselves of all other thoughts that attempt to creep in and to return to the mantra. One day, we are told, but not when, we will achieve “Cosmic Consciousness,” the 'denouement' of this quotidian activity. C.C. is a sort of a personal resurrection, a phenomenon, we are informed. Like the ‘remote control’ the neighbors have. This is a pretty big deal, bigger than the Pope or the President. Huge. Imagine. The ability to see and hear and feel what others have not yet even conceived. I sense we are being observed by the elders, in this communal setting of virgin meditators, with our heads hanging down, hands in our lap, legs crossed in a sitting position, breathing gently and quietly. Like mendicants from Yangon at five in the morning. Almost twenty minutes transpire and I slowly open my eyes. Everything is lucid. I notice things that could never be observed by the untrained eye a half hour ago. I think I spotted Waldo. Finally, after seventeen whole years, I can sense the superhero I am one day to become. We get up to leave our final session, elated, guru’d, and hungry. Victor and I get a Big Mac and then a vanilla ice-cream cone dipped in chocolate, medium size, from the Dairy Queen (okay, it may have been a large). We finish and we look at each other briefly. “Now what?” “Nuthin.” He goes to soccer practice. And I proceed to wrestling practice, mentally enlightened. With my newfound psychic superiority, I observe the practice room before entering. A congregation of entangled hormonal boys sweating in a hot room with coaches screaming at them. I’ll pass, this is no way to waste my youth. Maybe Rickles is on tonight. I wonder if there are any pistachio nuts in the house. The red ones. If the smart phone was the greatest invention in my lifetime, then red pistachios were the dumbest. I awake the next morning. Time for my first independent meditation exercise, and the tranquility that will ensue. But I am not feeling particularly spiritual. Maybe I should skip the morning routine and try again in the afternoon, after school. But I am sidetracked. You see, Alicia, you know, the new girl from Argentina, she is approaching…me. “What are y’up to david?” and for my Spanish speaking friends, “Que guapo eres, david.” “Uh…nothing.” (quite the lady’s man) Screw the TM. Alicia is actually speaking with me. This is major. And she is from Buenos Aires. I got me sum religion, game, and swag going on. Cosmic Consciousness and the calm that is the result of it will just have to wait. A teenage boy has limited ability to think beyond girls, in fact, they cannot contemplate much else. Then: “Oh, you gotta run? Okay. See ya tomorrow, Alicia.” And the translation in Spanish, “david, la unica cosa que quiero hacer es pasar el tiempo contigo.” I can’t believe I spoke with her? What am I going to do the rest of the day if I skip all my classes again?” Maybe I will shoot some hoops at the basketball courts. I’m hitting jump shots, from the key, when the officer pulls up. “Aren’t you ‘spose to be in school, son? It’s only ONE in the afternoon.” “Yes sir. Can I have a ride?” I am dreaming of Alicia at the Comtesse’s ball where we will dance together when I bump into Victor. “S’up?” and for our Spanish speakers, “Chevrolet, pink Chevrolet.” “Same.” “Have you ever read Honore de Balzac?” (Victor was smart, handsome, and popular. Damn him.) “Nope. But I will, three or four decades from now.” “Later.” “Much.” It is quite amazing how delicate and emotive boys are with each other in speech. How we learn to caress actions and feelings into a singular word that an outsider would be unable to correlate. When we grow up to be the sophisticated gentlemen we have become, our conversations will remain pretty much the same. Fast forward to yesterday. I knew nothing of ‘Le Pere Goriot,’ a cog in Balzac’s ‘Human Comedy.’ There are nuances here of Thackeray and DH Lawrence, but it is ultimately very French. Unctuous. Schmaltzy. Bon mots. And brilliant. And it presses more buttons than most authors can only aspire to do. This has all the scene changes you have already experienced in French novels of this era. But there is more. His character’s sentiments are dissected and their inner thoughts revealed, slowly. And then we see each of these cracked-open characters from multiple angles. Namely, from the individuated perspectives of the other characters that we feel we know so well. Deft. Craft. This is one great book. In the pantheon of great writers, this author is among (amongst?) the best. Another notch in France’s belt of authors of amazing wit and insight and honesty. It shook me up. It still does. Six stars. Count them, ******. As for Victor, my meditative high school friend; he became a professor of psychology at a southern university. He no longer meditates but smokes cigarettes instead. He is overweight. Me. I read books. (this one wreaked havoc on my heart) Alicia has survived three plastic surgeries, married Jed, the futbol player, and they currently sell ‘essential oils’ in Lowdown, Louisiana to passing truck drivers. She no longer uses the ‘vosotros’ conjugate and has substituted it with ‘y’all.’ A strategic business move with southern U.S. clientele. And M. de Balzac’s concession on how ludicrous everything is, does not end there. Society is unerringly demanding. Much of the ‘self’ must be sacrificed for it, to exist. And many excellent people are not rewarded while here. Human justice, between uncertified but regular folk, is seldom served; whereas due process in the courtroom is, at best, random and final.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gautam

    A very accessible novel with too much melodrama. Balzac had clearly expounded in his seminal work the vanity and selfishness of the Parisian community of 19th century. But the veritable theme- Fatherhood- is indeed a subject that touches your innermost self. I'm glad I have read Balzac.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Balzac is like that lusty, life-loving guy who sits in a bar and regales his audiences with stories. Sure, they're messy and could use editing, but there's no denying the sheer life force behind them. It took me a few pages to get into this book, but then I loved it. By the way, I read the Burton Raffel translation (in the Norton Critical Edition) and found it to be marvelous.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    "Lord, this world of yours is so badly made!" - Goriot Supremely 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 B "Lord, this world of yours is so badly made!" - Goriot Supremely 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 the 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David Lentz

    Balzac was a most enthusiastic participant of high society in Paris in his heyday principally because it yielded so many characters for his human comedy. Despite the artifice of glamor, wealth and nobility, a young attorney named Rastignac learns that it is shallow, materialistic and vain beyond all sense. Aspiring to make a name for himself, Rastignac stays in a bording house where he meets old Goriot, a vermicelli merchant with two daughters prominent in Paris society. Like King Lear, Goriot l Balzac was a most enthusiastic participant of high society in Paris in his heyday principally because it yielded so many characters for his human comedy. Despite the artifice of glamor, wealth and nobility, a young attorney named Rastignac learns that it is shallow, materialistic and vain beyond all sense. Aspiring to make a name for himself, Rastignac stays in a bording house where he meets old Goriot, a vermicelli merchant with two daughters prominent in Paris society. Like King Lear, Goriot loved his two beautiful daughters but cannot control them and eventually they drain him of all his wealth, refusing to visit him even when he's on his deathbed. Balzac points out that tailors in Paris made more men successful than any other influence. The women who adorned high society were often fighting economic desperation, pawning jewelry and fighting stingey and unfaithful husbands who abandon them. Rastignac is fascinated but repulsed by high society -- probably much like Balzac himself. The writer pours himself emtoionally into his stories, occasionally guilty of being overly sentimental -- the men in difficult or tragic situations easily and frequently shed tears. Balzac painted hundreds, if not thousands, of portraits of the French of his time in his epic human comedy. Not that much has changed really, as far as the human comedy goes. In his garret in Paris writing in the quiet of the late night and early morning, this great and prolific writer has left an astonishing legacy of profound, realistic and wise fiction. From his work it's possible to be transported to Balzac's time and find oneself deeply engaged in his human comedy. Clearly, Balzac is one of France's most important writers and Pere Goriot is certainly one of his finest works. Therefore, to experience Balzac, one couldn't find a more inspired entree in Pere Goriot.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    ETA: I simply must add something! How to do this without giving a spoiler? Below I have only hinted at what made this book move from three to four stars. Something happens about 2/3 of the way into the story. It has to do with the hidden criminal, also mentioned below. One of the boarders leads to the discovery of that criminal. It is the behavior of the other boarders toward the criminal and the betrayer that made me love the book. The book doesn’t have a rosy ending, so that makes it real, but ETA: I simply must add something! How to do this without giving a spoiler? Below I have only hinted at what made this book move from three to four stars. Something happens about 2/3 of the way into the story. It has to do with the hidden criminal, also mentioned below. One of the boarders leads to the discovery of that criminal. It is the behavior of the other boarders toward the criminal and the betrayer that made me love the book. The book doesn’t have a rosy ending, so that makes it real, but neither does it leave you in total despair. Not many authors can achieve such. ******************************** Let me describe the writing first. It is dated, wordy and at times almost flowery. Due to its old-fashioned style, the book was published first in 1834 and 1835 in serial format, you must read or listen very carefully. The writing is chock full of details. The opening meticulously describes a lodging house on Rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, in the quartier of the Faubourg Saint Marcel. A sordid, mediocre area. Dirty and dark, in the shadows of the looming Dôme du Val-de-Grâce and the Dôme du Panthéon. Its residents struggling to survive. Then the descriptions take you inside the lodging house Mason Vauquer, room by room. The widow who manages the house, the lodgers, there are seven, down to their clothing, facial attributes, behavioral quirks, social standing and aspirations. We learn of each one's past, or at least we are told what may have been their past lives. That all is not revealed or known is hinted at. Your curiosity grows. It is these characters and a few others that the story revolves around. At dinners, paying diners from the neighborhood fill the seats up to 18 or 20, circling the table, joking and talking, arguing. At breakfast the cook, the handyman and the cat and the seven boarders in their bathrobes and slippers; this was a "Parisian family" as any other. I have been in houses like the one described. I could picture the wall paper, the tiles, the tall windows, the attic, the creaky boards. I could smell the dampness, the musty air. I like descriptive writing. Do you? The book opens with that setting. I was made curious. I wanted more. Others may be bored. Then the story develops around the seven boarders and what each is up to. There is a father who loves his two daughters. There is an aspiring law student from southern France. There is a criminal in hiding. There are secrets. Who will betray whom? The story is about love and money and social standing, about how to succeed. What it does best is describe life in Paris around 1819 (i.e. during the Bourbon Restoration). It is not about history. It is about a time and place. It is about people and how we behave, then and today. Balzac was critical of his times. He sought to describe it realistically, honestly. I think he succeeds magnificently. Some betray others. Some don't see what is before their eyes. Some value friendship and shared experiences. The audiobook narration by Walter Covell is mediocre. Sure, it is not hard to follow and you can hear the lines. There is zero spark. It is flat. Pick another narrator if you can.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Raul Bimenyimana

    This is a sad story set in early 19th century Paris. Like many tales from that period, there is something cautionary about it. The story revolves around Rastignac, an ambitious poor law student from Southern France, who aims to ascend the social ladder through liaisons with Parisian upper class women, and Goriot a man impoverished for the sake of his two ungrateful daughters, and to a lesser extent Vautrin, an ex-convict pursued by the police and sharing a boardinghouse with Rastignac and Goriot This is a sad story set in early 19th century Paris. Like many tales from that period, there is something cautionary about it. The story revolves around Rastignac, an ambitious poor law student from Southern France, who aims to ascend the social ladder through liaisons with Parisian upper class women, and Goriot a man impoverished for the sake of his two ungrateful daughters, and to a lesser extent Vautrin, an ex-convict pursued by the police and sharing a boardinghouse with Rastignac and Goriot. Goriot having loved his daughters with grand selflessness bequeaths them his wealth and descends down the social ladder, in return these daughters treat their father with neglect and contempt, all the meanwhile still letting go of the minimal possessions he has to satisfy his daughters' erratic whims. It is one of his daughters, Delphine, that Rastignac falls in love and develops an affair with and as a result a kinship develops between the two characters. The book is written as though by a person whom having reached the summit, dispenses bits of their knowledge downstream to the masses. The characters all take very distinct qualities through which the writer tells his moral tale filled with pain, betrayal and tragedy. Among the criticisms, I liked most that which focused on the upper classes and their inhumanity and selfishness. I also enjoyed the depiction of the young Rastignac's naivete as he traverses through the rooms of the wealthy. Finishing this book I realized that had I read it three or four years ago, it most likely would have been a five star rating and perhaps even a favourite but I have since found some of the ideas here better written in other works.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    April 16, 2017 I am still reading but these excerpts that I wish to record will not fit in the progress status box. “Love in Paris is a thing distinct and apart; for in Paris neither men nor women are the dupes of the commonplaces by which people seek to throw a veil over their motives, or to parade a fine affectation of disinterestedness in their sentiments. ... Love ... is above all things, and by its very nature, a vainglorious, brazen-fronted, ostentatious, thriftless charlatan. ... Love is a April 16, 2017 I am still reading but these excerpts that I wish to record will not fit in the progress status box. “Love in Paris is a thing distinct and apart; for in Paris neither men nor women are the dupes of the commonplaces by which people seek to throw a veil over their motives, or to parade a fine affectation of disinterestedness in their sentiments. ... Love ... is above all things, and by its very nature, a vainglorious, brazen-fronted, ostentatious, thriftless charlatan. ... Love is a religion, and his cult must in the nature of things be more costly than those of all other deities; Love the Spoiler stays for a moment, and then passes on; like the urchin of the streets, his course may be traced by the ravages that he has made.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4* of five for the Raffel translation The Publisher Says: Père Goriot is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. Interwoven with this theme is that of the impoverished young aristocrat, Rastignac, come to Paris from the provinces to make his fortune, who befriends Goriot and becomes involved with the daughters. The story is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for money. My Rating: 4* of five for the Raffel translation The Publisher Says: Père Goriot is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. Interwoven with this theme is that of the impoverished young aristocrat, Rastignac, come to Paris from the provinces to make his fortune, who befriends Goriot and becomes involved with the daughters. The story is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for money. My Review: Père Goriot as translated by Marian Ayton Crawford simply has to be the most tedious translation of Balzac ever done. The translation is the thing here. A perfectly pleasurable read in French, it is just criminal to market this translation at this point in history. Penguin should hang its corporate head in shame for continuing to offer this terrible clanking juddering 1980 Ford Fiesta of a misrepresentation of Père Goriot. The Raffel translation from Norton Critical Editions is head and shoulders above the older translation. It's much more what I hear in my punkin haid when I try to read the French original. Not stilted, though formal by our modern standardsless standards. Not precious or overblown. Simple, well-built sentences telling the sad tale of a father whose love for his daughters blinds him to the budding rascality and rapscallionhood of the smooth-talking arriviste Rastignac. Delphine, Goriot's daughter, doesn't attend her father's funeral; nor does her sister; and yet there sits Rastignac.... The reason this story continues to be read is simple: A classic is a book that never finishes saying all it has to say. These tropes are as fresh as the morning dew and as old as the hills. Balzac brought them intensely and vividly to life in Père Goriot. No one, save perhaps wily seducer Vautrin, he who makes a good-enough bloke over into a sleazy social climber, is an unmixed all-good or all-bad person. And that's a rare thing today, let alone in the 1830s when this was first published. An excellent read IN THE RAFFEL TRANSLATION!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Cheering for a father of daughters to read this book--or any father. The daughters only write to ask for funds, as they make their way up the social ladder well above where they can even acknowledge their father. Who but Balzac writes of a proud French General, "simple as a child," or of "professeur," essentially a prep school teacher, at "Collège de France, payé pour tenir a la hauteur de ses auditeurs " (56). He writes of youth, and its "contagion des sentiments." The wonderful, pathetic ending Cheering for a father of daughters to read this book--or any father. The daughters only write to ask for funds, as they make their way up the social ladder well above where they can even acknowledge their father. Who but Balzac writes of a proud French General, "simple as a child," or of "professeur," essentially a prep school teacher, at "Collège de France, payé pour tenir a la hauteur de ses auditeurs " (56). He writes of youth, and its "contagion des sentiments." The wonderful, pathetic ending features a French funeral--for which , see Dickens' satire in the Uncommercial Traveller, hilarious in a chapter titled French Funerals: "The waste for which the funeral customs of many tribes of savages are conspicuous, has attended these civilised obsequies; and once, and twice, have I wished in my soul that if the waste must be, they would let the undertaker bury the money, and let me bury the friend." Pere Goriot's death is unattended by his daughters, his funeral...well, no spoilers on that. Goriot gets some grand monologs, for sure.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Money is life; money accomplishes everything. I recently worked as a slush pile reader for a literary magazine, sorting out the best stories from the flurry of submissions. Many of these were quite expertly written—sharp prose, snappy beginnings, intriguing plots, quirky characters, and all of the other boxes ticked. However, the lion’s share lacked something which I came to call “weight.” The stories never escaped the sense of airy insubstantiality that besets much fiction, that nagging and per Money is life; money accomplishes everything. I recently worked as a slush pile reader for a literary magazine, sorting out the best stories from the flurry of submissions. Many of these were quite expertly written—sharp prose, snappy beginnings, intriguing plots, quirky characters, and all of the other boxes ticked. However, the lion’s share lacked something which I came to call “weight.” The stories never escaped the sense of airy insubstantiality that besets much fiction, that nagging and persistent sense of emptiness—in short, of being entirely fiction. The characters spoke with the voices of puppets and moved in a daydream world. I could not believe, so I did not care. Balzac presents a striking contrast. From the very start, this novel is heavy-laden with realistic details snatched from history and from daily life. Far from being phantasmagoric, the setting is etched into the memory with acid, becoming more real than the characters themselves. Doubtless this ability to lend the weight of reality to his stories is what made Balzac the father of realism. But Balzac’s realism is most impressive in his depiction of the Paris of the Bourbon restoration; it does not extend so forcefully to his characters. Even the best characters in this book are rather one-dimensional and static; they achieve force through intensity, not complexity. Balzac endows each of his creations with an overwhelming passion, a monomania. In the case of Goriot it is, obviously, his daughters; with Rastignac, social clout; and with Vautrin, a general diabolical glee. But if Balzac does not stop at these monomanias, for he is at pains to show that each of these passions is fundamentally rooted in money. Goriot loses the affection of his daughters by giving away his last bit of money; Rastignac realizes that money is the key to social success; and Vautrin wishes to buy a plantation in the American south. For a nineteenth-century novel, this is refreshing. Balzac eschews the usual plot mechanics of romance and marriage in favor of the far more contemporary problem of making one’s way in a morally treacherous world. He is a genius at revealing how mercenary motives worm their way into even the most intimate of relationships. Given Balzac’s reputation for realism, I was surprised by the amount of melodramatic passion on display in this novel. Often this was a weakness, loading the book down with declamations and hysterics. But, at times, it allowed Balzac to reach a level of emotional intensity that was almost operatic. This was particularly true in the final scene, where the combination of grinding poverty, total desperation, and feverish despair reached Dostoyevskian proportions. Indeed, Pere Goriot was a major influence on Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, as is clear from the many parallels between the two books. The final result is a book which, if aesthetically rough and conceptually limited, is both an incisive look at the hypocrisies of society and a gripping work of art.

  22. 4 out of 5

    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...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    It's good to study up on the history of the novel -- this one's apparently a founding father. Maybe if I'd read it with nothing to do for a week my experience would've been different, but I was too often distracted to commit to the concerns of early-19th century Paris. As such, my feelings about this one are mixed, like with Stendhal's The Red and the Black last year. I love the expository jags, the proclamations about the behavior of all young men, all women in Paris. The essayistic asides seem It's good to study up on the history of the novel -- this one's apparently a founding father. Maybe if I'd read it with nothing to do for a week my experience would've been different, but I was too often distracted to commit to the concerns of early-19th century Paris. As such, my feelings about this one are mixed, like with Stendhal's The Red and the Black last year. I love the expository jags, the proclamations about the behavior of all young men, all women in Paris. The essayistic asides seem perfectly phrased, always calling for enthusiastic dog-earing, as though I'll one day find on the page the bit of wisdom that struck me the first time through. I'd love to read essays by Balzac, or even a collection of insights into human nature culled from his hundred million novels. Sometimes I was reminded of that bit in Reality Hunger: A Manifesto where David Shields comes clean and says he thinks novels are life-support systems for eloquent articulation of wisdom/theme. I often sort of muddled through the dramatization, not always sure who was who and what was happening where. (The names/surnames of too many characters start with "V" for me?) Reading this, it became real clear how much we modern readers (ie, "I") rely on chapter breaks and white space between sections or at least clear transitions between scenes. In this, once a scene ends, in the next paragraph a character is propelled across Paris by no more than a hard return. This sort of thing requires an attention I might not always have paid, in part because I wasn't so engaged in the young social climber's upwardly mobile quest? The title character's unconditional love for his daughters is undeniably moving, and maybe also more cloying than Balzac's statements that it's Christ-like. But his daughters I didn't see nearly as well -- and if you don't see someone so well that character is pretty much screwed since being seen by readers gives characters a heartbeat and breath. So: Loved the wisdom zingers throughout, liked the two major male characters, thought less of minor characters (even Cheat-Death), wasn't so engaged by the plot, and wasn't always sure what was going down in the dramatized bits. Seven stars for the expository jags, but maybe 3.25 stars overall, with respect for the writer's perception and humility for my abilities as a distractable 21st century reader.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    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 throu 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    Original review posted here This 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 Original review posted here This 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 Balzac The 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 – Balzac The 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 - Balzac I 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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    Excellent - my first Balzac. The Human Comedy is a daunting achievement but this was a great starting point: completely self-contained and impressively plotted. The book particularly sparkles when Vautrin, as swaggering and unpredictable a character as any I've seen in 19th century literature, is on the mental screen. The court scenes are fascinating and the choice of 1819 is interesting - these people are hovering between the Bourbons and Napoleon and the consequences of the social schism radia Excellent - my first Balzac. The Human Comedy is a daunting achievement but this was a great starting point: completely self-contained and impressively plotted. The book particularly sparkles when Vautrin, as swaggering and unpredictable a character as any I've seen in 19th century literature, is on the mental screen. The court scenes are fascinating and the choice of 1819 is interesting - these people are hovering between the Bourbons and Napoleon and the consequences of the social schism radiate all through the book. Rastignac is great and the minor characters are fundamentally perfect. And the great Dickensian confluence in the middle of the book is incredibly exciting. My complaints are essentially that 1) it's so much King Lear that it defeats itself 2) there is a captivating subplot that is dropped completely with no resolution (I won't say which, but it will become apparent 3) After the bombastic scene in the middle of the book it tracks downhill 4) and that's mostly because this particular dead horse takes an unusual licking. I often have this problem with 19th century novels; the ending is so telegraphed that the moralizing is done in mind well before we get to the drawn out explanation. But all that aside this is great. And REALLY funny. And, believe it or not, resonant of Calvino at points. Great sentences too.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    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 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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This is my third Balzac novel, and I've enjoyed every one. Each reads easily with wonderful descriptions, vivid characters, great dialogue and interesting plots. Balzac is hard on every strata of society, but there's still plenty enough good qualities in at least a few characters and enough humor sprinkled here and there to alleviate the grim reality.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I knew that I wanted to read Balzac, but where to start? I knew that his great work, La Comedie Humaine, was a vast collection of loosely linked novels that he wrote to portray each and every level of French society. I knew that with more than forty books this wasn’t a series I was going to read in its entirety; and so, because I had copies of several books, I gave each one of them careful consideration before I decided which looked the most interesting. My choice was ‘Le Père Goriot’, a book from I knew that I wanted to read Balzac, but where to start? I knew that his great work, La Comedie Humaine, was a vast collection of loosely linked novels that he wrote to portray each and every level of French society. I knew that with more than forty books this wasn’t a series I was going to read in its entirety; and so, because I had copies of several books, I gave each one of them careful consideration before I decided which looked the most interesting. My choice was ‘Le Père Goriot’, a book from the middle of Balzac’s writing career, and a book which is said by many to be his greatest work. My decision may have been influenced by the fact that the story is set in a boarding house – I have always loved boarding house novels – and the story begins with wonderfully precisie description of the Maison Vaquer, a poor but respectable establishment, and its inhabitants. Only once the scene is properly set, can the story can begin. At first I was very aware of the narrator. He was articulate, he was engaging, but I was a little concerned that he was interrupting the story he has to tell to reinforce points. They were good points, but I wanted them to come from the story and the characters. In time they did, and in time the narrator faded into the background; he was doing is job so well that I forgot he was there. The newest resident of the boarding house was Eugene de Rastignac who had recently arrived from the country, carrying all of the hopes of his family, to study law. His plan had been to throw himself into work and study, but it wasn’t long before he saw that he needed to make connections and be well placed in society if he was to succeed; and it was his great good luck to was blessed with a cousin who was well placed to introduce him to some of ‘the right people’. He was amiable, he had a natural charm, and he was well liked at the Maison Vaquer. Father Goriot was less well liked. When he had first arrived at the boarding house he had taken one of the best rooms, he had furnished it with lovely things, and his landlady had set her cap at him. When he didn’t respond, when those lovely things began to disappear and Father Goriot moved to one of her cheapest rooms, she treated him with disdain. Still he didn’t respond, and the other boarders considered him to be a rather foolish – maybe rather simple – old man. Eugene didn’t pay much attention to the situation, until the day he saw something that piqued his interest His cousin had introduced Rastignac to the beautiful Comtesse de Restaud, and he was smitten. He visited her home, and, while he was waiting for her to appear, he looked out of the window and saw her with Goriot at the back of the house. His visit went well until he mentioned that he knew the old man. As soon as the words were out of his mouth his visit was summarily ended; the next time he visited the Comtesse was ‘not at home’, and it was conveyed to him that she would never be ‘at home’ to him again. He couldn’t understand what had happened, and he turned to his cousin for advice. She explained a little; she told him that Goriot was the Comtesse’s father … Goriot had been a wealthy tradesman, and very blissfully happy with his beloved wife and their two lovely two daughters. When his wife died, he gave all of the love he had to his daughters; and he used almost all of his fortune to provide them with sizable dowries, so that they might marry rich and powerful men. They did just that, and he hoped that he might live with one or the other of them, and that the three of them would always be close. His hopes were dashed, because those rich and powerful men had no time for a humble tradesman. They would not welcome him into their homes, they would not even acknowledge him in public, and their wives followed suit. That was why Goriot moved into the Maison Vaquer, living off the little capital that he had kept for himself. His capital quickly diminished, because even though his daughters wanted him to keep his distance, they came to him whenever that had a bill to pay that their husband would not like, or that they would rather he did not know about. They took his love for granted, he could refuse them nothing, and so he was only one step away from destitution. When his cousin suggested that Eugene should woo Madame Delphine de Nucingen, Goriot’s other daughter, he saw many possibilities. It would it serve as revenge against her sister- the two sisters were bitterly competitive – it could be his stepping stone into society – and it could give him a chance to help the old man he had come to like very much. He followed her suggestion. Father Goriot was delighted that his young friend was moving in the same circles as his daughters, that he was able to bring him news of them. He was delighted with the smallest crumb; he thought nothing of himself, all of his care and concern was for them. Eugene could do nothing more for the old man. His daughters continued to take his love for granted, and it seemed that love had made them utterly selfish. His coming of age, his rise through society was set against Goriot’s fall. The story would end with his funeral; with only Eugene, the house boy who had always liked the old man who was kind to him, and two empty carriages sent by his sons-in-law in attendance. It took a little while for the story to get its hooks into me, but once it did I was caught, completely and utterly, to the very last page. The characters were complex and intriguing; and I couldn’t help responding to them. Nothing was black and white, but I saw so many shades of grey. I could understand why it was said that Goriot was a foolish old man – and I have to say that he was a fool for the best of reasons, that the world would be a better place if there were more fools like him. The story sets the world of the rich and powerful against the world of work and poverty very effectively. It was distinctive, it was uncontrived, and it illuminated similarities and differences. There was corruption and wrongdoing in both worlds, but the underlying causes were different. Some were keeping up appearances and expected much, while others were concerned with survival and advancement … It was told though a wonderful combination of descriptive passages and dialogues that made the characters, the era they lived in and the city that was home to them live and breathe. The boarding house and the salons were so well evoked that I might have been there. The old man’s downfall broke my heart, but the young man’s progress gave me hope for the future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    "It's a great shame that so many readers owe their first (and often last) contact with French literature to the opening pages of Le Père Goriot," writes Graham Robb in his resplendent biography of Balzac. Balzac begins his book with a pages-long description of the Pension Vaquer, an impoverished boarding house where key characters will come together. I'd have to disagree; Balzac's minute description of this seedy setting, which is also a description of its landlady, Madame Vaquer, is as over-the "It's a great shame that so many readers owe their first (and often last) contact with French literature to the opening pages of Le Père Goriot," writes Graham Robb in his resplendent biography of Balzac. Balzac begins his book with a pages-long description of the Pension Vaquer, an impoverished boarding house where key characters will come together. I'd have to disagree; Balzac's minute description of this seedy setting, which is also a description of its landlady, Madame Vaquer, is as over-the-top hilarious as anything in Dickens. The drawing room "gives off a smell for which our language has no special word; it can only be described as a boarding house smell. It smells stuffy, mouldy, rancid; it is chilly, clammy to breathe, permeates one's clothing; it leaves the stale taste of a room where people have been eating; it stinks of backstairs, scullery, workhouse. It could only be described if some process were invented for measuring the quantity of disgusting elementary particles contributed by each resident, young or old, from his own catarrhal and sui generis exhalations. Even so, despite these dull horrors, compared to the dining-room next door the drawing room seems as elegant and sweet smelling as a boudoir." — And we're off… A long time ago I tried to read Père Goriot in French, and failed. I picked it up recently with bland expectations and found myself chuckling all the way through. Here's where we first meet two of the key characters from his Human Comedy – the young Rastignac and the Mephistophelean arch-criminal Vautrin – but the entire ensemble is pure pleasure: grande dames deserted by their feckless lovers, mean old biddies and faithless daughters and conniving capitalists, all commingling in ambition. No one is virtuous, but some are more clever than others. As Stephen Vizinczey observed 30 years ago,* "the greatest 19th-century English and American novelists are Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Stendhal and Balzac in English." I'm a fan of this translation by A.J. Krailsheimer; it's never fusty and frequently funny. And if you've never read Balzac, this is a great place to begin. ______________________ * Speaking of forgotten classics, I just rated Vizinczey's collection Truth and Lies in Literature, which any lover of literature will love.

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