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Publisher's Summary

One of renowned French author Honoré de Balzac's finest works, Père Goriot provides a fascinating glimpse into Parisian life of the early 19th century. The rich character studies and themes of class, personal ambition, and materiality make this insightful novel as compelling today as when it was first published.

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.

Listen to the classics: peruse our full list of titles by Honore de Balzac.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    25
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    28
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    16
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

balzac rocks

A first-rate introduction to Balzac, whose work I hadn't read previously. Hecht is fabulous as the creepy, seductive Vautrin.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

If you read only one Balzac novel, this is it.

Would you listen to Le Pere Goriot again? Why?

Balzac's powers of description are amazing -- and the characters are memorable.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

Any additional comments?

Superbly read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good, provided that:

This is a good book, provided that you do not read it right after you read "War and Peace", because it cannot compete.

The thing about classics is reflection more than the story. I am very surprised that belzac did not spend time to convey to us, his distant children, that Gene loved Goriot deeply. I learned that only in the last chapter. Also how much did Gene loved his mistress? I can't tell after finishing the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

French emotion

Wonderful ! Sly and outraged attack on aristocratic social world of Parisian society in the 19th century

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb Reading

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.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

For a classic, disappointing: bleak and humourless

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.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as i remember it

Is there anything you would change about this book?

take it out of the classic books of the19th century

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

make it not so ridiculously soap operish

What three words best describe Paul Hecht’s voice?

doesn't do character that well

Did Le Pere Goriot inspire you to do anything?

go back to english novels

2 of 4 people found this review helpful