Set against the background of a society driven by greed and ambition, this is the tragic story of a father financially and personally ruined by his obsessive love for his two daughters. Balzac presents a portrait of both affluence and squalor in post-Napoleonic Paris.
Monsieur Goriot is one of a disparate group of lodgers at Mademe Vauquer's dingy Parisian boarding house. At first his wealth inspires respect, but as his circumstances are mysteriously reduced he becomes shunned by those around him, and soon his only remaining visitors are his two beautifully dressed daughters. Goriot's fate is intertwined with two other fellow boarders: the young social climber Eugene Rastignac, who sees a way to gain the acceptance and wealth he craves, and the enigmatic figure of Vautrin, who is hiding darker secrets than anyone. Weaving a compelling and panoramic story of love, money, self-sacrifice, corruption, greed and ambition, Old Man Goriot is Balzac's acknowledged masterpiece. A key novel in his Comédie Humaine series, it is a vividly realized portrait of bourgeois Parisian society in the years following the French Revolution.
Passionate and perceptive, the three short novels that make up Balzac's History of the Thirteen are concerned in part with the activities of a rich, powerful, sinister and unscrupulous secret society in nineteenth-century France. While the deeds of 'The Thirteen' remain frequently in the background, however, the individual novels are concerned with exploring various forms of desire. A tragic love story, Ferragus depicts a marriage destroyed by suspicion, revelation and misunderstanding. The Duchess de Langeais explores the anguish that results when a society coquette tries to seduce a heroic ex-soldier, while The Girl with the Golden Eyes offers a frank consideration of desire and sexuality. Together, these works provide a firm and fascinating foundation for Balzac's many later portrayals of Parisian life in his great novel-cycle The Human Comedy.
One of the greatest French novelists, Balzac was also an accomplished writer of shorter fiction. This volume includes twelve of his finest short stories - many of which feature characters from his epic series of novels the Comédie Humaine. Compelling tales of acute social and psychological insight, they fully demonstrate the mastery of suspense and revelation that were the hallmarks of Balzac's genius. In The Atheist's Mass, we learn the true reason for a distinguished atheist surgeon's attendance at religious services; La Grande Breteche describes the horrific truth behind the locked doors of a decaying country mansion, while The Red Inn relates a brutal tale of murder and betrayal. A fascinating counterpoint to the renowned novels, all the stories collected here stand by themselves as mesmerizing works by one of the finest writers of nineteenth-century France.
'This is as much a mystery as the Immaculate Conception, which of itself must make a doctor an unbeliever.' A stunning pair of short stories about faith and sacrificial love. Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions. Honore de Balzac (1799-1850). Balzac's works available in Penguin Classics are Old Man Goriot , Cousin Bette , History of The Thirteen , Selected Short Stories , Cousin Pons , A Harlot High and Low , Eugenie Grandet , The Wild Ass's Skin , The Black Sheep and Lost Illusions .