At the shabby boarding house in the rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, petty Madame Vauquer and her tenants wonder at the plight of the aging resident Goriot. Once a well-heeled merchant, Goriot was, at first, afforded special treatment from the Madame. But now something is clearly amiss in his financial affairs, and his increasingly tawdry appearance makes him a subject of ridicule in the household. Some think he lost in the markets, others see him as a lecherous patron of prostitutes, but one thing is clear: his selfless, complete devotion to his two daughters.
As the tragedy of old Goriot is revealed, the shallow values of society come into scrutiny.
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"Le Père Goriot holds so much, and in proportion to what it holds is...so simple and compact, that it easily ranks among the few greatest novels we possess." (Henry James)
A first-rate introduction to Balzac, whose work I hadn't read previously. Hecht is fabulous as the creepy, seductive Vautrin.
Balzac's powers of description are amazing -- and the characters are memorable.
Without doubt the young student Eugène de Rastignac, an attractive but misguidedly ambitious young man -- whose last name has actually entered the French language as a synonym for an opportunistic social climber -- an "arriviste." Rastignac wrestles with his own moral conscience as he manipulates people to achieve his social ends.
I'm a big fan of classic 19th c. novels, but this is the first novel by Balzac I've read. It will probably be the last. I found the story mediocre, the writing longwinded, and most of the characters uninteresting. The moral development of the law student Rastignac (sp?) is somewhat interesting as he first is corrupted by and then has his eyes opened to the true nature of 'high society.' But the interminable scenes in the last third of the novel ddepicting Goriot declaring his love for his daughters while they carry on fleecing him down to the shirt on his back simply lose interest. The reading was fine.
Paul Hecht brings a timeless classic to brilliant life. All of the heartbreaking tragedy and brutal cynicism of one of the greatest novels in all literature become palpable in his dramatic but restrained narration.
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take it out of the classic books of the19th century
make it not so ridiculously soap operish
doesn't do character that well
go back to english novels
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