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Cousin Pons Paperback – December 31, 2010

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Frequently Bought Together

Cousin Pons + Cousin Bette: Part 1 of  Poor Relations (Penguin Classics) + Lost Illusions (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Press (December 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434411389
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434411389
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 8.4 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,281,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ian Vance on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
*Cousin Bette* and *Cousin Pons*, Part One and Two of 'Poor Relations', are generally considered to be the last great gasp of French genius Honore de Balzac, inspired simultaneously and written in a fury to capitalize on the recent market for novel serializations. I'm not sure about this "last gasp" claim yet - *The Wrong Side of Paris*, Balzac's last novel (recently republished!) is on my reading list - but they certainly are great in and of themselves, *Bette* more than *Pons*, in my opinion. Not to degenerate this work in the slightest: being within the shadow of a masterpiece is close enough for posterity.

'Poor Relations' tackles the subject of the individual and its family; but where in *Bette* the poor relation was the spinster cousin, surrounded and revered by her family while she secretly schemed to destroy them, in this novel Pons is the outcast and victim, humiliated by his wealthy relations for his eccentric behavior and mooching ways. For Pons loves food - sumptuous feasts, where he can indulge the demands of his gastronomical addiction - and when his lack of social grace irritates his relatives to the point of banishment, he always wheedles his way back into their hearts with exquisite presents: Pons' monomania extends to collecting the great masterpieces of art, hoarding them away in his private salon where he can bask in the glory of oil and gold. After a scheme intended to permanently set his place at the dinner-table goes awry, however, the old man finds himself an exile, snubbed and refused at the homes of his relatives. The heartbreak - and the stomach-ache - drives the poor man to his deathbed, one hounded by prospective vultures seeking to profit on his jealously-kept collection.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By StarSearcher on December 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work, like all of Balzac's works, possesses his style, namely his perceptive insights into a Parisian's sole and the fabric of society during that time. Had these observations been relevent only to Paris of that time (the book takes place 1844-46) this book would not have the impact it does. I can almost imagine any one of these characters existing today, and wouldn't be surprised to open up the newspaper and reading a column with a similar story as this book.

It's a great look at what moves people to get ahead and step over other's who are more vulnerable. It is as if Balzac is saying that society is an extension of the apt phrase "survival of the fittest". The characters that ultimately succeed in this novel are the one's not with the most talent, but with the drive to get ahead in society. There are limits however, as a character who oversteps the laws of society is ultimately punished.

It is a painful novel to read as the characters who are the most sensitive and least versed in the ways of society suffer the most . Even a relatively minor character who is noble becomes withdrawn and pessimistic as a result of his inability to be charitable. It's definetely not an uplifting read, but it is very well written nontheless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dat's the story on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This wholly engrossing masterpiece is as profound as it is entertaining. Balzac surely is not only one of the best writers of all time but among the smartest people who ever lived. The delineation of character(s) and observation of the human condition are literally staggering.
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