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Written between 1837 and 1843, Lost Illusions reveals, perhaps better than any other of Balzac's ninety-two novels, the nature and scope of his genius. The story of Lucien Chardon, a young poet from Angoulême who tries desperately to make a name for himself in Paris, is a brilliantly realistic and boldly satirical portrait of provincial manners and aristocratic life. Handsome and ambitious but naïve, Lucien is patronized by the beau monde as represented by Madame de Bargeton and her cousin, the formidable Marquise d'Espard, only to be duped by them. Denied the social rank he thought would be his, Lucien discards his poetic aspirations and turns to hack journalism; his descent into Parisian low life ultimately leads to his own death.
"Balzac was both a greedy child and an indefatigable observer of a greedy age, at once a fantastic and a genius, yet possessing a simple core of common sense," noted V. S. Pritchett, one of his several biographers. Another, André Maurois, concluded: "Balzac was by turns a saint, a criminal, an honest judge, a corrupt judge, a minister, a fob, a harlot, a duchess, and always a genius."
This Modern Library edition presents the translation by Kathleen Raine.
It is utterly spellbinding and a wonderful view of history.
Balzac's Lost Illusions is a massive literary undertaking, and an attempt to delve deep into the world of humanity with all its great deeds and basest desires.
Lucien gets the love of one Louise de Bargeton, the "queen of Angouleme", the most cultivated and refined woman in town.
What a pleasure to read a truly beautiful novel. Balzac demonstrates why he is a literary master. This book is compelling, the characters are fascinating, and the themes of human... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Music n Books
Beautiful, and as applicable today as when it was written.Published 4 months ago by William M. McEneaney
Balzac's Lost Illusions is a massive literary undertaking, and an attempt to delve deep into the world of humanity with all its great deeds and basest desires. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Henry Martin
Honore de Balzac, one the greatest of French novelists, created a collection of some seventy novels to describe French society in all its glory and all its evil. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Russell H. Manning
It may be impossible to say which is the best Balzac novel, given his prodigious output and a number of really outstanding works among it, but this certainly seems the best of him... Read morePublished 10 months ago by reading man
Balzac, like Thackery's Vanity Fair, and Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities in our time, writes brilliant comedies of human nature and the vanity of cultural expectations and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by whj
Lost Illusions is not the Balzac you want to start with if you have never read him before. It is long, longer than most others of the Comedie Humaine, and contains a lot of... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Tony Covatta
Every time I read one of his books, in translation of course, I love him more and more. I can only compare him in quality with Charles Dickens. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Richard Christiansen
After having been hypnotized, literally, by RODIN's scandalous, revolutionary, and ultimately triumphant sculpture of BALZAC, for the last twenty years-----and having found the... Read morePublished on September 29, 2011 by Raymond Louis Llompart