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Old Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

Old Goriot (1835)

by Honoré de Balzac

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MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,710811,000 (3.79)4 / 285
  1. 20
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    CarlAnFoto: A prima Bette (em portugues)
  2. 10
    The Red and the Black by Stendhal (ShaneTierney)
  3. 01
    Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (Sylak)
    Sylak: More wicked females preying on foolish and easily dominated men.

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English (69)  French (6)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  Tagalog (1)  Danish (1)  All (81)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
The plot of Old Goriot weaves together opposite ends of the Parisian social scale – the ballrooms and salons of the aristocracy, and a shabby but apparently respectable boarding house in a poor quarter of town. It is in this dreary and worn and wonderfully described old house that a variety of unlikely personalities are thrown together, including the two main characters Old Goriot and Eugene Rastingac. Along with the other residents these provide the excellent mix of humour, tragedy, comic mundanity, intrigue, and wealth of insights onto human psychology that make Balzac's novels so entertaining. We also see the vacuous world of materialism, greed, pleasure seeking, fashion, and social climbing, into which some of these characters variously dip their toes or plunge.
As in many of Balzac's works, the story is driven in part by a character with a specific obsessive personality trait - in this case Old Father Goriot who is fixed on providing for his selfish daughters. Monsieur Rastignac however is an altogether more interesting and torn character in that he represents some of the better aspects of human nature, while having enough self interest that he can be led into shady schemes by those who are more cynical and less honourable than he. The fight between his sense of what is right, and the desire for personal advancement play out in this complicated character throughout the novel. Old Goriot is none the less a troubled being, though in his case this is due to his psychological complex over being a good father to his two heartless daughters. While I won't give the story away, there are several heart-wrenching scenes, and an ending that fits the story.
Taken all together, this is the best of Balzac's full length novels that I have read so far, and definitely more interesting and complete than either Eugene Grandet or the Village Rector for example. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Jun 4, 2017 |
Exquisitely written, beautifully read. Cynical, tragic, ironic, depressing. ( )
  JackMassa | Nov 23, 2016 |
I read it in college, and now am re-reading it. It's amazing how talking with a few college professors in the course of one's work will make you take the book from the shelf, dust it off, and pull the underlining pen out of the drawer. And the amazing thing now is, now that I'm out of college, there are so many more nuances that didn't exist for me before, though I did recognize at the first reading the genius Balzac had for making observations about people and how true they are 150 years later.

I'm reading it now and looking at some key sentences and thinking, Oh, wow, that could have been a term paper all on its own!" Age brings wisdom and patience." ( )
1 vote threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
Perhaps love is only gratitude for pleasure. ~Balzac~ (p.266) ( )
  DVDWalsh | Jan 18, 2016 |
Among the lodgers at Madame Vaquer’s boarding house in Paris are some colorful characters. Eugene Rastignac is a poor law student whose ambition is to enter Paris society, Vautrin is loud and brash and makes Eugene an interesting offer, and Goriot is an old man who is so devoted to his daughters that he allows them to suck all of his money out of him. These characters’ story lines intersect throughout the novel and illuminate the nature of the French upper class in the early 19th century.

There was a lot of description at the beginning of the novel, but after I got into it, I really enjoyed it. The style is a bit old-fashioned, so I did have to slow down and pay attention. Balzac makes many interesting observations that left me with a lot to think about. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of his work. ( )
1 vote AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (421 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Balzac, Honoré deprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maurois, AndréPrefacemain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Binni, LanfrancoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brumbaugh, Robert S.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bulder, NicoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Castex, Pierre-GeorgesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Citron, PierreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cucchi, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Marchi, CesareTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goudsmit, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hans van PinxterenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jensen, BriktAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krailsheimer, A.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez Cardozo, J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mariage, EllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCannon, OliviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norum, TryggveTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novák, ĽudovítTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robb, GrahamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roldanus jr., W.J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"All is true." Shakespeare
To the great and illustrious Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire as a tribute of admiration for his labors and his genius.
Comme un témoinage d'admiration de ses travaux et de son génie.
De Balzac
First words
Madame Vauquer (nee De Conflans) is an elderly person who for the past forty years has kept a lodging house in the Rue Neuve-Sainte-Genevieve, in the district that lies between the Latin Quarter and the Faubourg Saint-Marcel.
Madame Vauquer, née de Conflans, est une vieille femme qui, depuis quarante ans, tient à Paris une pension bourgeoise établie rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, entre le quartier latin et le faubourg Saint-Marceau.
Madam Vauquer, formerly Mademoiselle de Conflans, is now an old woman.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140440178, Paperback)

A witty and reflective study of the bourgeoisie after the French Revolution, and the two great human obsessions - love and money - Honore de Balzac's "Old Goriot" is part of the immortal "La Comedie humaine", translated from the French with an introduction by Marion Ayton Crawford in "Penguin Classics". Eugene wants to get on in the world. So he has come to Paris, where the streets teem with chancers, criminals and social climbers - and everyone is out for what they can get. When he finds a place to stay at a shabby boarding house, he sees a potential plan to make a fortune: the two beautiful, aristocratic women who mysteriously come at night to visit the lonely old lodger Goriot. Could they bring him the status and acceptance he craves? In the city nothing is as it seems though. Soon Eugene gets out of his depth in a world of greed and obsession that he could never have imagined - one that can only end in terrible tragedy. Marion Ayton Crawford's sparkling translation is accompanied by an introduction exploring Balzac's ability to create distinctive characters from all levels of societyas the new, ambitious middle classes replaced France's old imperial ways. 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 "Old Goriot", you might like Balzac's "Cousin Bette", also available in "Penguin Classics".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:15 -0400)

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A retired man living in a poor boarding house in Paris meets a mysterious neighbor and an ambitious young man, while doting on his two ungrateful married daughters.

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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