Mild, harmless and ugly to behold, the impoverished Pons is an ageing musician whose brief fame has fallen to nothing. Living a placid Parisian life as a bachelor in a shared apartment with his friend Schmucke, he maintains only two passions: a devotion to fine dining in the company of wealthy but disdainful relatives, and a dedication to the collection of antiques. When these relatives become aware of the true value of his art collection, however, their sneering contempt for the parasitic Pons rapidly falls away as they struggle to obtain a piece of the weakening man's inheritance. Taking its place in the Human Comedy as a companion to Cousin Bette, the darkly humorous Cousin Pons is among of the last and greatest of Balzac's novels concerning French urban society: a cynical, pessimistic but never despairing consideration of human nature.
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About the Author
The son of a civil servant, Honoré de Balzac was born in 1799 in Tours, France. After attending boarding school in Vendôme, he gravitated to Paris where he worked as a legal clerk and a hack writer, using various pseudonyms, often in collaboration with other writers. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas père and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years.