Pere Goriot

Pere Goriot


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This outstanding French realist novel contrasts the social progress of an impoverished but ambitious aristocrat with that of a father whose obsessive love leads to personal and financial ruin. "The modern King Lear." — Leslie Stephen.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486436982
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 09/10/2004
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.26(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) worked for three years in a lawyer’s office, preparing to practice law, but in 1819, he devoted himself to writing. His early stories were hackwork published under various pseudonyms. In 1829, he published La Dernier Chouan, the first story to bear his name and his first success. Over the next twenty years, Balzac’s literary output was prodigious: three or four novels a year, sometimes more. All became part of La Comédie Humaine, a panorama of the whole of French society, some of the most important works of this series being Eugénie Grandet (1833) and Père Goriot (1834). He also wrote plays and the popular Droll Stories (1833).
Henry Reed (1914-86) was a noted poet, translator, and writer of radio plays. In addition to Père Goriot, his translations include Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac. His poems were published in two volumes, A Map of Verona and Lessons of the War.
Peter Brooks is the author of a number of books, including Reading for the Plot, The Melodramatic Imagination, and Henry James Goes to Paris. He was a longtime professor of comparative literature and French at Yale University and University Professor at the University of Virginia.

Table of Contents

1Private Lodgings7
2Afternoon Calls59
3Entry into Society95
5The Two Daughters215
6Death of a Father251
Selected Bibliography285

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)

Customer Reviews

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Pere Goriot (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought a copy of Pere Goirot along with Cousin Bette to feed a new large appetite for books I have developed this year. Over ten years ago, a friend recommended Pere Goriot. I remember thoroughly enjoying the book, along with the basic plot but it being so long ago, my memory was a bit fuzzy. Greatly disappointed with Cousin Bette, with it's copious notes, making it much more of a chore to get through than a pleasurable read, I winced at cracking Pere Goriot.However, I was delighted to find it as charming and entertaining as I did many years ago! Balzac's perception of human nature is truly insightful. Each character's personality and the atmosphere which helps to develop their perspectives make this a timeless human story. One can easily relate to the ambitious Eugene, struggling between the desire for success which require a moral compromise, and being a friend and humanitarian to the self sacrificing character of Goriot. Along with Delphine,desperate to maintain her sanity and luxury, showing only superficial concern for her Father's privation, or the sinister Vautrin, representing a cynical and indifferent approach to hypocritical social and cultural codes. Unlike Cousin Bette, which will be forever confined to the arena of the Franco-phile, literary student, historian, and teacher with it's specified content, Pere Goriot shows Balzac at his best. It offers a realistic, comical,and tragic look into the hearts and minds of the woman and man of every age. Definitely worth reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Why is this the 1st review of this wonderful classic? Perhaps it is one of the lesser known classics but please take the time to read this incredibly absorbing read. Goriot is so obssessive in this tale of obssessing over your children and it's consequence still rings true today. Balzac is truly a prose artist.
theaelizabet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Balzac wrote this book (published in 1835) as part of a sequence of books and plays known as La Comedie humaine. Through the strivings of a young student named Rastignac, Balzac tells of an 1819 Paris, where the social order is up ended, poverty is rife and residents will do anything to climb up, through and over the social ladder. Emile Zola (who came a couple generations after Balzac) wrote, ¿He killed off the lies of the old genres and inaugurated the future . . . Balzac . . . grows stronger every day and presides over a literary movement that will certainly be that of the twentieth century.¿ Remembering Balzac¿s importance in literary history may help one continue reading Pere Goriot, despite a desire o throttle every selfish character in the book.
nee-nee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story starts out by meeting Madame Vauquer, a poor but, more or less, respectable woman who runs the boarding house where we meet most of the characters in this novel. The boarding house is a horrible, dirty, little, place but reputable enough. It is here we meet Eugene Rastignac and the rest of the story pretty much follows him. A poor law student from the country, Eugene has seen enough of Paris to want more, more than a poor law student can achieve without assistance. He comes up with a plan to get a rich mistress who will help him to succeed in society. But as no Parisian woman would have him as he is, he writes home and borrows money from his family and asks an Aunt, who used to frequent Parisian society, for an introduction to anyone she thinks might aid him in this social climb. The family comes through with the money and a letter to a distant cousin Madame la Vicomtesse de Beauseant. The introduction to Madame de Beauseant is important for Eugene. He is invited to ball is accepted there and meets a beautiful woman, Madame la Comtess de Restaud. She is beautiful, rich and will serve his purpose quite well. On his first call to the Madame de Restaud he blunders unforgivably. He sees a fellow boarder leaving their house and questions if they happen to know "Old Goriot." As it turns out "Old Goriot" is Madame's father. This embarrasses everyone and as Eugene leaves Monsieur de Restaud tells the doorman not to let him in again.From there Eugene goes to Madame de Beauseants and applies to her for help. How can he have a rich mistress if he has poor country habits? He asks her to teach him how to behave in society. She does this and helps him to find another potential mistress. Madame de Nucingen "Old Goriot's" other daughter. This works out well as Madame de Nucingen's last beau has just left her. Eugene takes to seeing Madame de Nucingen very frequently and when he comes home he tells Goriot all about it. By this time Eugene has come to admire and respect Goriot. He finds out exactly what kind of women this mans daughters are and why he, Goriot, is in such poverty at Madame Vanquers. He gave them everything they ever wanted as children he has continued this in their adulthood. He ruins himself with his maniacal desire to pay their debts. Eugene remains more or less good at heart through this debacle. But instead of changing his mind he continues in his scheme. I very much enjoyed this novel. The human natures described here are both appalling and engrossing. A great read and a quick one (275 pages.) Completely worthwhile.
rocketjk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Balzac novel, although I've read several of his short stories, and I found it insightful, sad and funny, if a bit over-written in parts. The book shows us the story of Eugene Rastinac, a young member of the rural French gentry who comes to the big city, determined to make his way in the society of early 19th Century Paris (and/or study law). His story intersects with that of the title character, an old retiree who, King Lear-like, has made the mistake of giving his fortune to his two daughters in the expectation that they will care for him in his old age. Rastinac and Goriot meet in the run-down rats nest of a rooming house they both live in, an abode described so well that a reader can almost smell the dust and feel the decay.Henry Reed, the translater of the Signet Classic edition I read, tells us in his Afterword that Balzac was in the habit of going back and amending his works, sometimes even after they'd been published. Those amendments usually consisted of additional text, and not always, as Reed tells it, to the ultimate benefit of the work. Still, while some French publishers offer shorter versions, Reed has here translated the entire text of Balzac's final edition. And, really, it's not that hard to tell where the padding has occurred, as his characters speeches sometimes seem overlong, especially towards the end.Nevertheless, Pere Goriot is keen social satire, the characterizations are quite good, and the observations are often both memorable and funny. For example very early on, we are told that Madame Vaquer, the keeper of the rooming house, had originally entertained designs of marriage on Goriot during his first days as a lodger, but that those hopes had quickly been dashed. Her reaction is described, in part, thusly:"Inevitably, she went farther in hostility than she had ever gone in friendship. It was her expectations, not her love, that had been disappointed. If the human heart sometimes finds moments of pause as it ascends the slopes of affection, it rarely halts on the way down."The hypocricy, and the heart, of human society at all its levels is investigated well, here. And the book is lots of fun.
williamcostiganjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's a lot to love about this book. The writing is evocative and often humourous.However, there is a lot of extra padding that could have been trimmed. Sometimes the characters go on repeating themselves for pages at a time. The romance is overdone--but considering when it was written, is not so bad.I liked Balzac's black humor, showcased in frequent asides about Paris, money, family, society, etc. I liked how money incessantly influenced his characters' actions.The story is far-fetched in parts, but that did not detract from my enjoyment too much.
bookworm87 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Pere Goriot" was a good book about the dangers of wealth. The old man is a once-wealthy tradesman with two beautiful but unhappily married daughters. Their frivolous spending habits cause Pere Goriot, who dearly loves his daughters, to give up his fortune and sell all of his valuables in order to pay their debts. The book also chronicles the struggles of Eugene Rastignac, who desires the life of the rich and famous Parisians that surround him. The book was a fast read--although it could have been more absorbing--and it taught a good lesson. Quite funny in parts!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first experience with Balzac and I'm planning on many more after reading this. Very little action but still kept me turning the pages. I thought it was a terrific reflection of the socioeconomic times and people of France at the turn of previous century. Very readable for the modern reader.
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Too much talking and not enough action.
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MairL More than 1 year ago
I read this 30 years ago and was reminded by a reference in a current nonfiction so decided to give it a revisit. Poor Eugene, trying to social climb with occasional fits of conscience but the tunnel vision of most young people. I probably identify more with old Goriot than I did before. Still a clear rep of society in early 19 century France.
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