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Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac
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2,254232,845 (3.7)1 / 113
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Great book! Maybe it is even 4.5 *

Balzac's characters were all well written (even though not all were very nice) & the prose was extremely readable. I found the ending rather sad... ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 7, 2017 |
"Eugenie Grandet" takes place in a gloomy house in the French village Saumur. Monsieur Grandet is an extremely rich old miser that makes life miserable for his wife and daughter Eugenie. When her handsome cousin Charles arrives without a penny to his name, Eugenies passion awakens. Against her fathers will she use her own money to help Charles. It’s the beginning to a tragic fight between two strong wills.

Balzac’s novel is - like "Pere Goriot" - a part of his La Comédie Humaine. It’s an almost grotesque study in the detrimental effects of the power of money. It starts lighthearted with descriptions of Monsieur Grandets miserly life where every penny is saved and none spent - soon it turns into a bitter and ugly fight. ( )
  ctpress | Feb 10, 2016 |
Like several of Balzac's novels, there is a strong moral theme in the novel's plot, this time the love of money – especially gold. Coupled with stinginess as it is here, it contrasts with materialism in general, giving a character similar in some trains to that of Dickens' Scrooge in a Christmas Carol (published a decade later).

Eugenie Grandet is the daughter of a very wealthy but miserly businessman, who plays a slightly greater role in the novel than her. They live in the large provincial town of Saumur, in a somewhat Spartan existence in grand but poorly-maintained house. Sheltered from the world, oblivious to her father's machinations, and kept companion by her caring mother, Eugenie grows up with an angelic and impressionable character. The other member of their small household is the housekeeper Nanon, who is also endearing and well characterised.
Throughout the novel, the two main families in the town vie for Eugenie's hand, and though she is oblivious to their motivation behind their attentions, her father plays them off to benefit from the one-upmanship. Things are shaken up however when her wealthy cousin Charles arrives from Paris. She instantly falls in love due to his good looks and charm, and her world view begins to change. A further unsuspected change in fortune occurs for one of the characters, and this brings about the events that make up the rest of the plot.
Many of the other usual Balzac themes are present – death, unrequited love, monomania, and social and psychological goings-on. This is not one of Balzac's longest novels, but it is very complete in what it is, without the tendency to drag out events unnecessarily such as in “Le Curé de Village”. It would therefore be a great introduction to Balzac, and his Comedie Humaine. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Aug 23, 2015 |
Eugenie Grandet is one of the signature works of French literature, and Flaubert, who wrote Madame Bovary and is arguably the most celebrated French novelist, was supposedly greatly influenced by Balzac. It's easy reading Eugene Grandet to trace the line of realism in French literature from Stendahl's The Red and the Black, its predecessor, and Madame Bovary, its successor. All three concern themselves with people from the French provinces, which are presented as largely petty and grasping. All feature styles that are amazing in their command of details--rich but never rambling. All three novels deal with monomania. In the case of Madame Bovary, she seeks passion--the search for love (or lust?) rules all. With Julian Sorel of The Red and the Black it's ambition, as Sorel seeks to rise above his peasant roots. In this novel the ruling, blighting passion is avarice--money, gold, miserliness.

Mind you, that's not Eugenie's guiding passion--and I think that's the one aspect of the novel that makes me deny it a fifth star. This is a pretty short novel, less than 200 pages--yet richer than many a bloated classic that goes on for hundreds of pages. It's rich in incident, style and character--that comes through even in translation. It's easy to understand why Henry James thought Balzac the greatest novelist in literature. And indeed I can see a strong resemblance between Catherine Sloper of James' Washington Square and Eugenie. Except Catherine feels more real, more an individual and more the center of her own story. For that matter to me so do secondary female characters in Stendahl's The Red and the Black, let alone Emma Bovary. For a title character Eugenie seems rather pallid to me, more acted upon than acting. Her father and love are more interesting, more central to her fate--it's their avarice that matters. Eugenie never quite seemed real to me, but more the "angelic" kind of figure that annoyed me in so much of Dickens that I've read.

That said, yes, this is well worth reading and I'll remember this novel for a long time. Pere Grandet is a monster of miserliness like none I've read in literature. And I'm told with Balzac there's much more to him than one novel can convey. He embarked upon the ambitious project of linking his novels in a shared world, "La Comédie humaine," so minor characters in one often become the protagonists of others. And believe me, after reading this novel, this won't be the last I read of Balzac. ( )
1 vote LisaMaria_C | Feb 14, 2014 |
Eugenie Grandet is the daughter of a leading citizen, and former mayor, of Saumur, France in the early 1800s. Her father is a terrible miser, shot through with greed, and although wealthy, forces his family to live like poor people. He keeps the food stuffs under lock and key and doles out the food each day, counting each cube of sugar. He also has a terrible temper.

When Eugenie’s nephew, Charles, comes to live with the Grandet family for a while after his father goes bankrupt and commits suicide, Eugenie falls fast in love with him – cousins could marry in those days. When Charles goes to the Indies to make his fortune, Eugenie waits for him as they discussed. “She let herself drift deliciously with the tide of love. She snatched her happiness like a swimmer seizing a willow branch overhanging the river to draw himself to land and rest for a while.”

Eugenie eventually inherits her father’s vast wealth. She is a poor little rich girl, seeking only love. “God poured quantities of gold into her lap, although gold meant nothing to her.” ( )
  Hagelstein | Jul 25, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buzzi, GiancarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Citron, PierreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Combé-Mazee, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crawford, Marion AytonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hofmannsthal, Hugo vonPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, Herbert J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laín Martínez, MilagroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marriage, EllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raphael, SylviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reed, HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roldanus jr., W.J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A Maria,
Que votre nom, vous dont le portrait est le plus bel ornement de cet ouvrage, soit ici comme une branche de buis bénit, prise on ne sait à quel arbre, mais certainement sanctifiée par la religion et renouvelée, toujours verte, par des mains pieuses, pour protéger la maison.
To Maria
Your portrait is the fairest ornament of this book, and here it is fitting that your name should be set, like the branch of box taken from some unknown garden to lie for a while in the holy water, and afterwards set by pious hands above the threshold, where the green spray, ever renewed, is a sacred talisman to ward off all evil from the house.
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In some country towns there exist houses whose appearance weighs as heavily upon the spirits as the gloomiest cloister,the most dismal ruin, or the dreariest stretch of barren land.
In some country towns there are houses more depressing to the sight than the dimmest cloister, the most melancholy ruins, or the dreariest stretch of sandy waste. [Ellen Marriage Tr.]
Charles was a thorough child of Paris, with a Parisian's habit of mind..
He had received the detestable education of a world in which more crimes (in thought and word at least) are committed in one evening than come before a court of justice in the course of a whole session; a world in which great ideas perish, done to death by a witticism, and where it is reckoned a weakness not to see things as they are. To see things as they are – that means, believe in nothing, put faith in nothing and in no man, for there is no such thing as sincerity in opinion or affection; mistrust events, for even events can be manufactured. To see things as they are you must weigh your friend's purse morning by morning; you must know by instinct the right moment to interfere for your own profit in every matter that turns up; you must keep your judgement rigorously suspended, be in no hurry to admire a work of art or a noble deed, and give every one credit for interested motives on every possible occasion.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 014044050X, Paperback)

Depicting the fatal clash between material desires and the liberating power of human passions, Honore de Balzac's "Eugenie Grandet" is translated with an introduction by M.A. Crawford in "Penguin Classics". In a gloomy house in provincial Saumur, the miser Grandet lives with his wife and daughter, Eugenie, whose lives are stifled and overshadowed by his obsession with gold. Guarding his piles of glittering treasures and his only child equally closely, he will let no one near them. But when the arrival of her handsome cousin, Charles, awakens Eugenie's own desires, her passion brings her into a violent collision with her father that results in tragedy for all. "Eugenie Grandet" is one of the earliest and finest works in Balzac's Comedie humaine cycle, which portrays a society consumed by the struggle to amass wealth and achieve power. Here Grandet embodies both the passionate pursuit of money, and the human cost of avarice. M. A. Crawford's lucid translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing the irony and psychological insight of Balzac's characterization, the role of fate in the novel, its setting and historical background. Honore De Balzac (1799-1850) failed at being a lawyer, publisher, printer, businessman, critic and politician before, at the age of thirty, turning his hand to writing. His life's work, La Comedie humaine, is a series of ninety novels and short stories which offer a magnificent panorama of nineteenth-century life after the French Revolution. Balzac was an influence on innumerable writers who followed him, including Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allan Poe. If you enjoyed "Eugenie Grandet" you might like Moliere's "The Miser" and "Other Plays", also available in "Penguin Classics".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

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The miser Grandet lives with his wife and his daughter, Eugenie. The arrival of Charles, Eugenie's cousin, stirs her desires, but Grandet's obsession with gold causes tragedy.

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