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Lost Illusions (Modern Library Classics) by…
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Lost Illusions (Modern Library Classics) (edition 2001)

by Honoré de Balzac (Author), Kathleen Raine (Translator)

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1,726166,022 (4.13)1 / 109
Member:kitapkurtcugu
Title:Lost Illusions (Modern Library Classics)
Authors:Honoré de Balzac (Author)
Other authors:Kathleen Raine (Translator)
Info:Modern Library (2001), Edition: New edition, 752 pages
Collections:Your library
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Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac

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English (13)  French (3)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Illusions perdues, written intermittently over a period of nearly ten years in the late thirties and early forties, draws mostly on Balzac's time as a struggling writer in the Paris of 1821-22 (unlike other novelists of the time, he never seems to be shy of pinning himself to the calendar), but also brings in material from his legal training and his time as a printer, papermaker and publisher (clearly, nothing was ever wasted!).

It's pretty clear from the title where Balzac wants the plot to go: provincial poet Lucien dreams of literary glory and his friend David dreams of making his family's fortune by a radical improvement to the paper-making process that will slash the cost of printing. We know from the start that the author is going to dangle the prospect of success in front of both of them, only to whip it savagely away at the last minute. But he takes his time about it, and obviously changed his mind a few times along the way about just how he is going to get there. Lucien is slapped down and humiliated multiple times, both in his native Angoulême and in Paris, but keeps bouncing up to try again in a new direction, without ever reflecting that his enemies will remember him from last time. Meanwhile (the stories are concurrent and interlinked, even though Balzac obviously wrote them several years apart) David is caught in a ludicrously complex plot involving multiple competing parties all trying to steal his invention and/or force him to sign it over for a fraction of what it's worth.

There's a huge amount going on, and it never gets even remotely dull, even if it is occasionally difficult to remember who is supposed to be on which side. And a wealth of fascinating, cynical comment on the literary and commercial world and the people who make their money out of it in more or less (usually less) legal and ethical ways. Glorious moments like the incident of the publisher who comes to see Lucien in his Paris lodgings to buy his novel - the advance he's intending to offer starts off at a thousand francs, but the sight of the squalid street Lucien lives in already makes him knock a couple of hundred off, and by the time he's got to the fourth floor he's under two hundred. And insights into the way the press uses its power to blackmail producers, publishers and public figures - if the editors aren't paid off, the papers will attack with negative reviews or - much worse - ignore the items concerned altogether. There are a couple of lovely scenes where an experienced journalist explains to Lucien how to write a lethal review of a good novel (simply attack it for not being something other than what it is) or a favourable review of a terrible play. Very often you get the feeling that Balzac would have been right at home in the era of social media and "fake" news. Plus ça change,...

There's a great bit of Balzac chutzpah in the magnificent but quite irrelevant scene towards the end of the book, where he spends twenty pages introducing a major character we've been vaguely expecting to turn up, but have forgotten all about by the time we've read 600 pages. Wasted space as far as the plot is concerned, but it does somehow give you an irresistible urge to find out what happens by reading the next book in the sequence! ( )
2 vote thorold | Sep 6, 2018 |
This book is the reason I learned french. more later. ( )
  jmilloy | Nov 8, 2017 |
Balzac explore le monde du journalisme parisien. ( )
  Joe56 | May 25, 2015 |
Handsome would-be poet Lucien Chardon is poor and naive, but highly ambitious. Failing to make his name in his dull provincial hometown, he is taken up by a patroness, the captivating married woman Madame de Bargeton, and prepares to forge his way in the glamorous beau monde of Paris. But Lucien has entered a world far more dangerous than he realized, as Madame de Bargeton's reputation becomes compromised and the fickle, venomous denizens of the courts and salons conspire to keep him out of their ranks. Lucien eventually learns that, wherever he goes, talent counts for nothing in comparison to money, intrigue and unscrupulousness. Lost Illusions is one of the greatest novels in the rich procession of the Comedie humaine, Balzac's panoramic social and moral history of his times.

**
  GalenWiley | Apr 28, 2015 |
I’d never read Balzac before seeing this recommended, after reading it I wondered why it took me so long to get around to him. The prose style might seem overly didactic at times (in the translation I read anyway) but otherwise it charts the decline and fall of a talented poet who tries his hand at making it in the big city. The title alone should tell you that it’s not going to be the most uplifting of reads, Balzac refusing to graft a happy ending on and instead pursuing his story with relentless logic. Balzac is also uncompromising in his criticism of the society of the times and its institutions – he’s particularly harsh on journalism and the banking and legal systems and their power against individuals. There is something of a deus ex machina ending, which ameliorates the fate of a few of the main characters and provides space for a sequel, but that’s a minor blemish. ( )
  JonArnold | Mar 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (72 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Citron, PierreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hunt, Herbert J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marriage, EllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mezzanotte, GabriellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mosley, FrancisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noiray, JacquesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raine, KathleenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Selvatico Estense, DianellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolf, UdoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A l'époque ou commence cette histoire, la presse de Stanhope et les rouleaux à distribuer l'encre ne fonctionnaient pas encore dans les petites imprimeries de provinces.
At the period when this history begins, Stanhope's press and cylinders for the distribution of ink were unknown to provincial printing-houses.
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"Les romantiques se composent de jeunes gens, et les classiques sont des perruques".

"C'est comme si tu ne disais rien, on dit cela de tous les livres".

"Si vous avez l'esprit de le deviner, vous aurez celui de vous taire".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140442510, Paperback)

Handsome would-be poet Lucien Chardon is poor and naive, but highly ambitious. Failing to make his name in his dull provincial hometown, he is taken up by a patroness, the captivating married woman Madame de Bargeton, and prepares to forge his way in the glamorous beau monde of Paris. But Lucien has entered a world far more dangerous than he realized, as Madame de Bargeton's reputation becomes compromised and the fickle, venomous denizens of the courts and salons conspire to keep him out of their ranks. Lucien eventually learns that, wherever he goes, talent counts for nothing in comparison to money, intrigue and unscrupulousness. Lost Illusions is one of the greatest novels in the rich procession of the Comedie humaine, Balzac's panoramic social and moral history of his times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Lucien Chardon, an aspiring young author, leaves his small provincial hometown and attempts to succeed in Parisian literary circles of the early nineteenth century.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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