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The Magic Skin | [Honore de Balzac]

The Magic Skin

"The possession of power, no matter how enormous, does not bring the knowledge how to use it." Raphael, a failed writer, deep in debt, and unrequited in love, is about to take a suicidal plunge into the Seine River. Just in time, he discovers the "Magic Skin" in an antiquity shop. Its supernatural powers grant every wish but it extracts a terrible toll! This parable depicts the malaise of 19th century France.
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Publisher's Summary

"The possession of power, no matter how enormous, does not bring the knowledge how to use it." Raphael, a failed writer, deep in debt, and unrequited in love, is about to take a suicidal plunge into the Seine River. Just in time, he discovers the "Magic Skin" in an antiquity shop. Its supernatural powers grant every wish but it extracts a terrible toll! This parable depicts the malaise of 19th century France.

©2002 Tantor Media Incorporated

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (25 )
5 star
 (6)
4 star
 (5)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (4)
Overall
4.0 (6 )
5 star
 (4)
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3 star
 (1)
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (4 )
5 star
 (2)
4 star
 (1)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (1)
Performance
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  •  
    Maria Denver, CO, USA 02-04-04
    Maria Denver, CO, USA 02-04-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "poor reading"

    What a lousy reading! There were so many fake French accents, ALL of them unneccessary, that the book is unintelligible. I gave up after two hours. Don't waste your time or money.

    19 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Richmond, VA, USA 08-17-09
    Cheryl Richmond, VA, USA 08-17-09 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    5
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    "Not well read"

    This is one of my favorites by Balzac. Warning: like many of his novels (and even more so) , this one starts out slowly, then bursts into action in the second half.
    I found the reading itself disappointing. When the characters speak, the reader uses a strange prody of an Eastern European accent--think Pepe le Pew meets Dracula. He also lowers his voice, and kind of growls which is odd, since for the most part, the characters are are very young--in their 20's. This sounds like no French person I've ever known (and I know many), and worse, is often impossible to understand.

    When you *can* understand it, this strange accent seems to mock the characters, the story, the French...What a shame! I kept vowing I would not listen through to the end, but it is such a good story,such a great author, and my commute is SOOOO long, I was able to muscle hrough it.



    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew OrvietoItaly 02-02-10
    Andrew OrvietoItaly 02-02-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Unbearable to listen to the reading!"

    As other reviewers have said, this Balzac novel does start off slooooowly. Which might be OK if the reader didn't use an incredibly bad "French" accent that makes it hard to understand the words and that distracts from the story itself. My wife and I simply don't have the stamina to wait for the story to get better, since the reader has worn us out with his faux French accent. Two hours into the listening, we're giving up. Definite waste of money, this one. Now, maybe Cousin Bette will be better . . .

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 03-10-09
    V. T. Carson Connecticut 03-10-09 Member Since 2004

    Audiobook Raven

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Vintage de Balzac but not a great novel"

    I loved the narrative and character development of de Balzac in "Pere Goriot" and "Cousin Bette" but "The Magic Skin" is too philosophical for my taste. Felt more like an essay than a novel. The start of the story is quite slow and I almost gave up reading at that point. The book is worth reading but I long for other de Balzac works in the mold of "Pere Goriot."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Ball Nevada, USA 11-27-13
    James Ball Nevada, USA 11-27-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    194
    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "He puts the em-PHASIS on the wrong syll-ABLES"
    What did you like best about The Magic Skin? What did you like least?

    Did the real narrator call in sick? Does this narrator not have more than a passing familiarity with the English language? Yes, apparently, on both counts.

    First of all, five stars for Balzac because, well, Balzac. It's a fantastic story, but I'm afraid it's rendered unbearable by this reader.

    Remember when kids would be called upon to read passages of a story out loud by the teacher in grade school? Remember their flat, unremarkable, dispassionate dictations? That's what you get with this reader who can't even pronounce many English words (conjuring becomes con-JUR-ing in his hands), much less the French accents. A computerized LibriVox version would be preferable to this. John Cleese's silly French knight in "Holy Grail" was more believeable.

    Unfortunately, this one is a pass.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Magic Skin?

    That freeing moment when I decided to read the kindle version instead.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Simon Vance or the late Frederick Davidson.


    Could you see The Magic Skin being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Not really.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results
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  • Jeannie
    5/14/07
    Overall
    "The Magic Skin"

    This is, I think, the worst read audiobook I have ever listened to. It is so badly read that it is not possible to follow or understand the story. Pauses in all the wrong places, pseudo-French accents (as if one needed this) for the dialogue, and the said (un)French accents make it almost impossible to hear, much less comprehend, what is going on. Had I known in advance, I should never have bought it. Pity, as I understand it's a great novel!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Rowlands Gill,, United Kingdom
    9/13/08
    Overall
    "The Chagrin is in the listening??."

    Balzac is a loved Parisian companion of many a jaunt to a g?te. Give the guy a break, you need the absolute of the French countryside to enjoy this one fully. Not to everyone?s taste, but then you pass many caravans on Le Franciliene and though bound for campsites we?re all still on holiday, aren?t we?

    What a poor production of ?La Peau de chagrin.? One of the true French greats really grates here ? having to turn my speakers right up to get any sort of reasonable delivery. ?In-audible?, I think is more appropriate.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results

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