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Cousin Bette (1846) is a novel by French author Honore de Balzac. Part of Balzac's La Comedie humaine sequence, the novel is recognized as being the author's last fully-realized work, and features several characters who appear elsewhere throughout his legendary series. It has inspired several film and television adaptations, as well as earned comparisons to Shakespeare's Othello and Tolstoy's War and Peace. The novel focuses on the life and exploits of Bette Fischer, a 42-year-old woman whose bitterness at remaining unmarried-despite several proposals by men she deemed unworthy-drives her to ruin the reputations and lives of her extended family. After rescuing the young sculptor Wenceslas Steinbock from suicide, Bette develops a complex affection for the man. When he falls in love with Hortense, the daughter of Bette's cousin Adeline, she hatches a plan to gain revenge for this perceived personal slight. She recruits the young and beautiful Valerie Marneffe-an unhappily married woman-to seduce Adeline's husband, Baron Hector Hulot, whose uncontrolled desires and extensive vanity both test his family's loyalty and stretch their finances to the furthest possible limit. Cousin Bette is an intense psychological drama and character study that burns with the fire of Balzac's critique of French society. While exposing the depths of human immorality-particularly where money is made the center of personal relationships-Balzac manages to remind us that what makes us human is not what drives us apart, but the lengths to which we will go to cultivate love despite our basest impulses. To read Cousin Bette is to observe the hopes, flaws, and desires of the people of nineteenth century France, but to ultimately judge ourselves. This final masterpiece of Honore de Balzac is a testament to the skill and dedication of one of history's finest literary minds. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Honore de Balzac's Cousin Bette is a classic of French literature reimagined for modern readers.
Lost Illusions (1837-1843) is a novel by French author Honore de Balzac. Written as part of his La Comedie humaine sequence, Lost Illusions looks at scenes of Parisian and provincial life involving friendship, desire, and literary ambition. Inspired by his own experiences as a journalist and publisher, Balzac sought to tell a story adjacent to his own, a story concerning a young man for whom talent is abundant but recognition is woefully scarce. The novel's protagonist, Lucien Chardon, features in Balzac's work A Harlot High and Low, as does the villain Vautrin, who appears toward the end of Lost Illusions and throughout Father Goriot, one of author's most popular and enduring works. The son of a middle-class father and aristocratic mother, Lucien Chardon is a promising young poet. He lives in Angouleme with his now-impoverished mother-who is also a widow-and his sister Eve. In the province, he spends his days with his loyal friend David Sechard, who encourages his literary lifestyle while studying to be a scientist. David's eventual marriage to Eve only brings the two friends closer together, but when Lucien meets the wealthy and influential Mme. de Bargeton, with whom he flees to Paris, their friendship is lost to Lucien's unstoppable ambition. In the city, abandoned by Mme. de Bargeton and living under his mother's maiden name, Lucien de Rubempre sacrifices morality, friendship, and family at the altar of poetry, slowly becoming another person altogether. Lost Illusions is one of Balzac's most sustained character studies, a novel which critiques humanity and high society as much as it does his own commercial interests as a professional writer. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Honore de Balzac's Lost Illusions is a classic of French literature reimagined for modern readers.
When young Gaston moves to Bayeux, a small province in Normandy, he feels stranded. Though he would rather spend his time in the capital city, Gaston must stay in Bayeux until he recovers from his illness. He feels unsatisfied and bored, until he hears the rumor about a woman living as a recluse on the countryside. Victomtesse de Beauseant is a beautiful woman who had been abandoned by her husband many years ago. Devastated, and now stuck in a loveless marriage because she cannot get a divorce, she lives in isolation. Gaston is moved by her story and becomes fixated, desperate to meet her. When he finally gets the courage to visit her home, Victomtesse de Beauseant is flattered by his infatuation, and despite her being ten years his senior, Beauseant and Gaston become lovers. However, their private paradise is soon interrupted by Gaston's disapproving mother, who is pressuring him to marry a woman he does not love. As rumors grow and Gaston's mother becomes more persistent, Gaston and Victomtesse's love is tested and threatened like never before. The Deserted Woman exemplifies Honore de Balzac's extraordinary literary ability that has influenced esteemed authors such as Henry James and Charles Dickens. With intricate prose and unparalleled compassion, Honore de Balzac explores the too-common predicament of women trapped in unhappy relationships. The Deserted Woman tells the emotional tale of the pressure society put on women and men to enter marriages that prioritized social and financial compatibility over a real, mutual, love connection. Though it does not exist to such an extent in Western society, Balzac's The Deserted Woman invites readers to consider how this spirit of unhealthy marriages is still alive in modern relationships. Balzac dedicated much of his career to the pursuit of capturing all aspects of society with his realist lens, creating celebrated work that influences the perspective of society. This edition of The Deserted Woman by Honore de Balzac features a striking new cover design and is reprinted in a modern, easy-to-read font, creating an approachable reading experience for a contemporary audience.
Sarrasine (1831) is a novella by French author Honore de Balzac. Written as part of his La Comedie humaine sequence, Sarrasine is one of Balzac's earliest works published without a pseudonym and helped to establish his reputation as a serious writer and distinguished member of Parisian high society. Noted for its controversial exploration of homosexuality and castration, Balzac's novella would become the subject of Roland Barthe's groundbreaking work of literary criticism, S/Z (1970). Composed as a frame narrative, Sarrasine begins during a ball at the mansion of the wealthy Monsieur de Lanty. The unnamed narrator, from a window overlooking the garden, listens to the conversations of partygoers and watches as his guest, Beatrix Rochefide, is approached by a mysterious older man. The next night, the narrator tells Beatrix a story involving the man, a respected member of de Lanty's circle. He begins with the life of Ernest-Jean Sarrasine, a successful young sculptor who, on a trip to Rome, fell in love with an opera star named Zambinella. Convinced she represents the ideal feminine form, he rejects Zambinella's misgivings and vague excuses, becoming increasingly obsessed with the beautiful singer. Devising a plan to kidnap Zambinella during a party at the French embassy, Sarrasine discovers the truth: the singer is a castrato, a classical operatic performer who was selected and castrated before puberty. Sarrasine, a powerful novella, explores themes of idealization and obsession while illuminating the conflation of sex and gender. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Honore de Balzac's Sarrasine is a classic of French literature reimagined for modern readers.
In Balzac's classic study of obsession, a chance meeting changes Balthazar Claes' life as it introduces him to alchemy and initiates his quest of the absolute. Throughout, our sympathy is equally divided between Balthazar's single-minded determination to push back the frontiers of knowledge, and the ruin of his family. "The Quest Of The Absolute" Was first published in France in 1834 and appears in a new edition from Dedalus, translated by Ellen Marriage and with an afterword and chronology by Christopher Smith.
The first new translation of Balzac's 1847 novel Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes in half a century, fully annotated and with an extensive introduction In Lost Souls, Honore de Balzac's brilliant evocation of nineteenth-century Paris, we enter a world of glittering wealth and grinding poverty, teeming with strivers, poseurs, and pleasure seekers along with those who struggle merely to survive. Between the heights of Parisian society and the criminal world lurking underneath, fate is about to catch up with Lucien de Rubempre, last seen in Lost Illusions, as his literary aspirations, his love for the courtesan Esther van Gobseck, and his scheme to marry the wealthy Clotilde become entangled in the cunning and ultimately disastrous ambitions of the Abbe Herrera, a villain for the ages. An extraordinary volume in Balzac's vast Human Comedy (in which he endeavored to capture all of society), Lost Souls appears here in its first new English translation in half a century. Keenly attuned to the acerbic charm and subtleties of Balzac's prose, this edition also includes an introduction presenting thorough biographical, literary, and historical context, as well as extensive notes throughout the text-an invaluable resource for today's readers as they navigate Balzac's copious allusions to classical and contemporaneous politics and literature.
This is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. It is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for money. The detailed descriptions of both affluence and squalor in the Paris of 1819 are an integral part of the drama played out by a wide range of characters, including the sinister but fascinating Vautrin. Unquestionably one of Balzac's finest novels, Pere Goriot still has the power to move the modern reader. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Cousin Bette (1846) is considered to be Balzac's last great novel,
and a key work in his Human Comedy. Set in the Paris of the 1830s
and 1840s, it is a complex tale of the devastating effect of
violent jealousy and sexual passion.
Beginning with a visceral description of the society and politics of Paris, The Girl with the Golden Eyes considers the sex life of the upper class by its raw depiction of the underside of Parisian life. Henri de Marsay is a young, rich man who is nearly devoid of morals and virtue. After he meets Paquita Valdes, a mysterious and beautiful woman, he becomes infested with a deviant lust for her. When his plan to seduce her succeeds, Henri and Paquita maintain an intensely sexual relationship. However, when Henri starts to suspect Paquita is involved with another lover, he becomes overwhelmed with rage and jealousy. As he allows this emotion to cloud his judgement and conscience, Henri's possessiveness plots a heinous act-immoral even by his questionable standards, leading to shocking discoveries and sick twists. The surprise and awe invoked by Honore de Balzac's The Girl with the Golden Eyes ensures a memorable narrative that has won the attention of critics and inspired a 1961 film adaptation. With elements of homosexuality, sexual slavery, incest and violence, The Girl with the Golden Eyes is a lustful tale that remains to be appalling and taboo. With raw and ruthless realism, Honore de Balzac creates a portrait and reflection of an entire society through the vivid depiction of Paris and the specific amorous vice of the protagonists. While exploring the vices of the Parisian upper class, The Girl with the Golden Eyes also invites reflection on the brutal effects misogyny and ill-intended men have on women, exposing a truth that is still applicable to modern society. Though The Girl with the Golden Eyes has traditionally been published among a collection, this edition of Honore de Balzac's work stands alone in the spotlight it has earned. Featuring a brand new, eye-catching cover design and a modern, readable font, this edition of The Girl with the Golden Eyes is accessible to contemporary audiences and encourages conversation on torrid and taboo affairs.
'What holds sway over this country without morals, beliefs, or feelings? Gold and pleasure.' Sexual attraction, artistic insight, and the often ironic relationship between them is the dominant theme in the three short works 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. His mastery of the seductions of storytelling places these novellas among the nineteenth-century's richest explorations of art and desire. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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