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Cousin Pons by Honoré de Balzac
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Cousin Pons (1847)

by Honoré de Balzac

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English (8)  French (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Ouvrage pessimiste, roman noir où se déploient dans leur hideur un univers cruel, une jungle hantée par des fauves inquiétants, Le Cousin Pons nous présente un monde criminel, en haut comme en bas, du salon à la loge de concierge.
Au beau milieu de ce siècle sordide, Sylvain Pons prend rang parmi les martyrs ignorés dont La Comédie Humaine met en scène les souffrances inconnues, les tortures infligées " aux âmes douces par les âmes dures, supplices auxquels succombent tant d'innocentes créatures ". Mais notre esthète angélique est également un gourmand ridicule et la farce s'immisce souvent dans le drame du pitoyable monomane ; la dernière grande œuvre de Balzac est aussi un roman-feuilleton grotesque.

Quatrième de couverture
«Deux mots suffisent à tout éclaircir, madame, dit Fraisier. Monsieur le président est le seul et unique héritier au troisième degré de monsieur Pons. Monsieur Pons est très malade, il va tester, s'il ne l'a déjà fait, en faveur d'un Allemand, son ami, nommé Schmucke, et l'importance de sa succession sera de plus de sept cent mille francs...- Si cela est, se dit à elle-même la présidente foudroyée par la possibilité de ce chiffre, j'ai fait une grande faute en me brouillant avec lui, en l'accablant.- Non, madame, car sans cette rupture il serait gai comme un pinson, et vivrait plus longtemps que vous, que monsieur le président et que moi... La Providence a ses voies, ne les sondons pas ! »
  Haijavivi | Jun 9, 2019 |
A superb dark comedy, companion piece to Cousin Bette.
Sylvain Pons is a dear old man, a musician and a poor relation of a titled family, to whom he repairs for gourmet dinners, and by whom he is regularly insulted and disparaged. Pons' overarching interest is picking up valuable antiques for a song, and he has amassed an amazing collection, which live in the flat he shares with devoted, childlike fellow musician, the German Schmucke. And which is presided over by the rapacious concierge, Mme Cibot...
When Pons falls ill; when those in the vicinity come to realise his 'bric a brac' is worth a mint, and when numerous others get involved...a corrupt doctor and his equally dodgy solicitor chum, the titled relatives who hope to inherit...and certain more lowly locals...a complex web unfolds.
Numerous laugh-out-loud observations on life and personalities ( )
  starbox | May 8, 2019 |
Death, it is often said, is the end of a journey, but few people know how apt this simile is in Paris.

Much like Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich, Cousin Pons is a meditation on mortality. Balzac's portrait is more cynical than mournful. The warmth of affection between the two friends is effaced by the calculating menace of those surrounding them. The structures of jurisprudence and medicine appear predatory. Despite that, there is Pons and his faithful Schmucke. There is much to admire and empathize in these two bumblers. I found Balzac's portrayal as always brilliant. Despite the pun, this could be no ocuntry for (poor) old men. There are a number of ill placed slurs lingering about. I find that disturbing but not a fatal flaw. Read Jim Paris' review
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/65897463 ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Part Two of Poor Relations
  LanternLibrary | Sep 16, 2017 |
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.

Review

Novel by Honore de Balzac, published in 1847 as Le Cousin Pons. One of the novels that makes up Balzac's series La Comedie humaine (The Human Comedy), Cousin Pons is often paired with La Cousine Bette under the title Les Parents pauvres ("The Poor Relations"). One of the last and greatest of Balzac's novels of French urban society, the book tells the story of Sylvain Pons, a poor musician who is swindled by his wealthy relatives when they learn that his collection of art and antiques is worth a fortune. In contrast to his counterpart Cousin Bette, who seeks revenge against those who have humiliated her, Cousin Pons suffers passively as his health deteriorates and he eventually dies. Balzac shows how a person without means can be crushed by a society that has no values except material ones. -- The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature

About the Author

Balzac was born in 1799, the son of a civil servant. At the age of thirty - heavily in debt and with an unsucessful past behind him - he started work on the first of what were to become a total of ninety novels and short stories that make up The Human Comedy. He died in 1850. Translated and introduced by Herbert J. Hunt
  GalenWiley | Apr 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Binni, LanfrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, Herbert J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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About three o'clock in the afternoon, one day in October 1844, an old man of some sixty years (though anyone who saw him would have thought him older) was walking along the Boulevard des Italiens, with his nose thrust forward and a smug expression on his lips, like a merchant who has just made an excellent deal, or a bachelor emerging from a lady's boudoir, pleased with his prowess - in Paris the expression of male self-satisfaction can go no further.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140442057, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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