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Old Goriot

Old Goriot

Author(s): Honore Balzac

Location(s): Paris

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): Post French Revolution

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A witty and reflective study of the bourgeoisie after the French Revolution, and the two great human obsessions – love and money – Honoré de Balzac’s Old Goriot is part of the immortal La Comédie humaine, translated from the French with an introduction by Marion Ayton Crawford in Penguin Classics.

Eugene wants to get on in the world. So he has come to Paris, where the streets teem with chancers, criminals and social climbers – and everyone is out for what they can get. When he finds a place to stay at a shabby boarding house, he sees a potential plan to make a fortune: the two beautiful, aristocratic women who mysteriously come at night to visit the lonely old lodger Goriot. Could they bring him the status and acceptance he craves? In the city nothing is as it seems though. Soon Eugene gets out of his depth in a world of greed and obsession that he could never have imagined – one that can only end in terrible tragedy.

Marion Ayton Crawford’s sparkling translation is accompanied by an introduction exploring Balzac’s ability to create distinctive characters from all levels of societyas the new, ambitious middle classes replaced France’s old imperial ways.

Honoré De Balzac (1799-1850) failed at being a lawyer, publisher, printer, businessman, critic and politician before, at the age of thirty, turning his hand to writing. His life’s work, La Comédie humaine, is a series of ninety novels and short stories which offer a magnificent panorama of nineteenth-century life after the French Revolution. Balzac was an influence on innumerable writers who followed him, including Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe.

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