Honoré de Balzac, a renowned French novelist and playwright, is known for his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society. Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, and praised for his multifaceted characters, who are morally ambiguous.
The story of a French military hero of the Napoleonic Wars, long assumed to be dead, tries to recover his fortune and former wife through the help of a famous Parisian lawyer. Colonel Chabert, a Napoleonic War hero supposedly killed in the Battle of Eylau, returns to Paris after a long convalescence to find his wife remarried, and his pension gone. He employs a young, well-known lawyer to at least reclaim his pension. It is a game of wits: first to convince the lawyer that he is who he says he is; secondly to get his wife to admit to his identity and thereby give up some of her wealth. Once the lawyer believes Chabert's story, the wife must be made to part with his pension...
Balzac's Contes Drolatiques, published in three installments in the 1830s, offers a lively and lusty portrait of sixteenth-century French life and manners. These thirty stories in the tradition of Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Rabelais were claimed by the author to have originated in manuscripts from the abbeys of Touraine. Abounding in episodes of good-humored licentiousness, the tales scandalized Balzac's contemporaries and continue to delight modern readers.French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a founder of realism in European literature. An inspiration to Proust, Dickens, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, and countless others, Balzac wrote works that were hailed for their multifaceted characters and exquisite attention to detail. This edition's excellent translation was the first to make Contes Drolatiques available to English-speaking readers.
Depicting the fatal clash between material desires and the liberating power of human passions, Honore de Balzac's "Eugenie Grandet" is translated with an introduction by M.A. Crawford in "Penguin Classics". In a gloomy house in provincial Saumur, the miser Grandet lives with his wife and daughter, Eugenie, whose lives are stifled and overshadowed by his obsession with gold. Guarding his piles of glittering treasures and his only child equally closely, he will let no one near them. But when the arrival of her handsome cousin, Charles, awakens Eugenie's own desires, her passion brings her into a violent collision with her father that results in tragedy for all. "Eugenie Grandet" is one of the earliest and finest works in Balzac's Comedie humaine cycle, which portrays a society consumed by the struggle to amass wealth and achieve power. Here Grandet embodies both the passionate pursuit of money, and the human cost of avarice. M. A. Crawford's lucid translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing the irony and psychological insight of Balzac's characterization, the role of fate in the novel, its setting and historical background. Honore 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 Comedie 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, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe.
This is a painfully drawn portrayal of private life, but its wider subject-matter also makes it a fictional document of post-revolutionary France.Many people (among them Henry James) have considered Balzac to be the greatest of all novelists. Eugenie Grandet, his spare, classical story of a girl whose life is blighted by her father's hysterical greed, goes a long way to justifying that opinion. One of the most magnificent of his tales of early nineteenth-century French provincial life, this novel is the work of a writer on whom nothing was lost, and who represents most fully the ability of the human animal to understand and illuminate its own condition.Translated By Ellen Marriage With An Introduction By Fredric R. JamesonFredric R. Jameson is William A. Lane, Jr. Professor of Comparative Literature at Duke University in North Carolina. His publications include Sartre: The Origins of a Style, Signatures of the Visible, and Post-modernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, with Aesthetics of the Geopolitical forthcoming.(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)
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