Pere Goriot

Pere Goriot

3.1 18
by Honore de Balzac
     
 

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In a grimy boardinghouse in a dismal Parisian neighborhood, Balzac sets the stage for his 1834 study of paternal love, greed, envy, and despair. Pere Goriot tells the story of a nineteenth-century counterpart to King Lear, a father so blindly devoted to his undeserving daughters that his tragic realization—'I loved them too much for them to love me at all'See more details below

Overview

In a grimy boardinghouse in a dismal Parisian neighborhood, Balzac sets the stage for his 1834 study of paternal love, greed, envy, and despair. Pere Goriot tells the story of a nineteenth-century counterpart to King Lear, a father so blindly devoted to his undeserving daughters that his tragic realization—'I loved them too much for them to love me at all'—comes too late. This best-known of Balzac's Comedie Humaine novels has all the stylistic elements one might expect: unnerving psychological analyses; vivid physical descriptions, acute observations of the rules governing Parisian society, disarming wit, and unbridled passion. Burton Raffel's translation is responsive to Balzac's style as well as to his words—nothing is suppressed, nothing obfuscated. The result is a highly readable, idiomatic translation of a master storyteller by a master translator.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Balzac's 1834 King Lear-esque novel here gets a little fresh air breathed into it by Burton Raffel, who won the 1991 French-American Translation Prize.
Jack Helbig
Best known for his epic series, La Comedie humaine, Balzac dabbled in the theater. Sadly always debt-ridden, he found playwriting did not pay nearly as much or as quickly as novel writing, so he abandoned the stage. At his death in 1850, the incredibly prolific writer--La Comedie humaine consists of 91 stories and novels--left only five complete plays. Of these, "Mercadet", which wasn't produced in Balzac's lifetime, is the best known, mostly because Samuel Beckett may have based his ever-absent Godot on a minor character in "Mercadet" named Godeau. This obscurity is a shame because "Mercadet" is a charming, likable, if rather light, comedy. True, its plot sounds like a bad sitcom episode: manipulative, money-mad financier Mercadet spins an ever more complicated net of lies to separate investors from their money and gets tangled in the web himself. The play is redeemed, however, by Balzac's gift for creating interesting, original, multilayered characters. In this edition, Robert Cornthwaite's translation is graceful and witty enough to make even the most time-worn plot twists seem fresh.
From the Publisher
“The greatest novelist who ever lived.”-W. Somerset Maugham

“A man of genius.”-Victor Hugo

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451512079
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
08/01/1962
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“The greatest novelist who ever lived.”—W. Somerset Maugham
 
“A man of genius.”—Victor Hugo
John Lyons
This is a terrific rendering of a perennial favorite. Raffel gives us all the lively, dramatic, and colorful Balzac style—I didn't think this could be done in English. It doesn't read at all like a translation—I was caught up completely with the feeling of direct contact with the Parisian life—but Raffel remains faithful to the finest detail.
—(John Lyons, University of Virginia)

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