Synopses & Reviews
Balzac's great theme was money, and he explored its uses and abuses with all the particularity of the masterful poet he was. Old Goriot, betrayed by rapacious daughters, and Rastignac, an ambitious provincial youth alive to his opportunities, form the twin foci around which the grasping Parisian society of the 1820s revolves, in this, his most economical and universally loved novel.
Monsieur Goriot is one of a select group of lodgers at Madame Vanquer's Parisian boarding house. At first his wealth inspires respect, but as his circumstances are reduced he becomes shunned and soon his only remaining visitors are two beautiful, mysterious young women.
About the Author
The son of a civil servant, Honoré de Balzac was born in 1799 in Tours, France. After attending boarding school in Vendôme, he gravitated to Paris where he worked as a legal clerk and a hack writer, using various pseudonyms, often in collaboration with other writers. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas père and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years.