Sexual attraction, artistic insight, and the often ironic relationship between them are the dominant themes in the three short works by Balzac collected in this volume.
In Sarrasine, an impetuous young sculptor falls in love with a diva of the Roman stage, but rapture turns to rage when he discovers the reality behind the seductiveness of the singer's voice. The ageing artist in The Unknown Masterpiece, obsessed with his creation of the perfect image of an ideal woman, tries to hide it from the jealous young student who is desperate for a glimpse of it. And in The Girl with the Golden Eyes, the hero is a dandy whose attractiveness for the mysterious Paquita has an unexpected origin. These enigmatic and disturbing forays into the margins of madness, sexuality, and creativity show Balzac spinning fantastic tales as profound as any of his longer fictions.
This volume is the only edition to bring these three great Balzac novellas together in one book, and it is the first paperback collection to include Sarrasine. Patrick Coleman's Introduction builds on the latest scholarship to help the reader appreciate the connections between notions of gender and the aesthetic explorations of nineteenth-century French romanticism and realism. The edition also includes thorough notes which explain all important cultural and political references.
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