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The Magic Skin (La Comédie Humaine)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  2,501 ratings  ·  113 reviews
This volume contains a facsimile reprint of "The Magic Skin," by Honore de Balzac (1799-1850). Born Honore Balzac, he was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His work, much of which is a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled "La Comedie humaine." Balzac is generally regarded as a founding father of realism in European literature, an ...more
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Wildside Press (first published 1831)
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Community Reviews

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Blair
The Wild Ass's Skin - or The Magic Skin, as it's known in some editions (neither of those titles are particularly appealing, I know) - is a literary novel of magical realism. It's simultaneously a fantasy, a study of character, and a cautionary 'be careful what you wish for' tale. At the beginning we are introduced to a young man who seems deep in despair, gambling away his last coins and thereafter contemplating suicide. Delaying the hour of his impending death, Raphael (as we learn he's called ...more
Maria
This isn't the edition I read. My book is one translated by Atwood Townsend, with an excellent afterword by Henri Peyre. French title is Le Peau de chagrin.

Poor young poet (shades of Sorrowing Werther)contemplates suicide, procures a magical piece of leather that grants wishes but the talisman shrinks when he wishes. Excellent Faustianish premise. Unfortunately, I found protagonist Raphael so distasteful as a character I was continually annoyed, and then the ending, which falls entirely and con
...more
Lynne King
I read this book at university in French and it was one of my favourite books. I've since read it in English and it seems to lack something - "je ne sais quoi" but still it is a wonderful book.

Balzac is one of my favourite authors. He has such a style about him and he has turned this simple story into a richly flavoured one. Imagine, a young man in Paris, Raphaël de Valentin in 1830, down on his luck, even temporarily contemplating suicide. His surprise indeed overwhelms him when he serendipitou
...more
Jim
This is for me one of Balzac's evergreen books -- I never grow tired of it. Think of it as a Buddhist tale by the Brothers Grimm, except that it has the usual Balzac suspects, including Horace Bianchon, Eugene de Rastignac, Taillefer, and a host of others.

The story is about how a young man about to commit suicide by throwing himself into the Thames visits a curio shop first and receives a magical talisman from the shop's aged owner. The talisman is a piece of wild ass's (or onager's) skin which
...more
Shahr Baran
انوره دو بالزاك مقام بزرگي در ادبيات فرانسه وجهان اشغال ميكند ..اما كتاب ((چرم ساغري ))او يكي از اثاري است كه دوبالزاك علاوه بر سبك ((كمدي انساني ))انرا نوعي كتاب فلسفي هم قرار داده ..اين رمان با داستاني عجيب ونگاهي عميق به زندگي سوالات ومسايلي را در ذهن خواننده پديدار ميكند كه نياز به تفكر در نوع نگرش به زندگي فردي واجتماعي دارد
در اين داستان رافايل جواني است كه اشراف زاده بود اما در اثر ورشكستگي ومرگ پدر تمام ثروت مادري را خرج بدهي ها پدر ميكند وخود با اندك پولي كه برايش باقي مانده تصميم ميگيرد
...more
Kaloyana
Малко по-малко от 5 звездички давам, само защото "Братовчедката Бет" ме вълнуваше малко повече.

Балзак пак ме плени с изящния си изказ, прекрасните, богати описания на хора, чувства, предмети, места, желания и състояния, както и с огромната си философия и познание на живота. Учудващо и дори стряскащо е как, толкова години по-късно, хората изобщо не сме се променили. Страдаме от същите болести на душата, предразсъдъци, поквари и по същия начин егото ни ни владее и мята насам-натам из живота. (Има
...more
Vladimir Toss
Кто бы знал что английское название такое смешное
Sandra
Gli ho dato 4 stelle perché il finale è palpitante e grandioso, in un crescendo di tragicità che crea quasi un malessere nel lettore. Però questo romanzo di Balzac non mi ha stregato, in alcuni momenti mi ha annoiato, riconosco la bellezza della scrittura, la sua ricchezza ed esuberanza che solo in Balzac trovo,che però in questo romanzo sono esagerate come da un’ansia enciclopedica dello scrittore (che rallenta la lettura e la rende pesante); quando leggo Balzac ho la sensazione che la sua penn ...more
Ben Dutton
Literature in translation provides interesting reading experiences. I first read Honoré de Balzac’s La Peau de Chagrin in a translation by Herbert Hunt (which is the Penguin Classics translation) and over Christmas 2008 read it again in a translation by Ellen Marriage as part of the Thompson Publishing Company’s complete La Comédie Humaine, an eighteen volume set, of which La Peau de Chagrin is the first work. I have read some Balzac, but I am of the suspicion that this will remain my favourite ...more
Dagny
The Magic Skin (La Peau de Chagrin), also translated as Wild Ass's Skin, contains one of my favorite descriptive scenes in all of Balzac--that of the antique shop.

A young man, by appearance noble but impoverished, enters a gambling house for the first time and leaves shortly thereafter, having lost his small stake. He walks along the banks of the Seine determined to drown himself. It seems degrading to die thusly in broad daylight, so he strolls on, awaiting darkness.

An antique shop attracts his
...more
Beka Sukhitashvili
ბალზაკის სიტყვაკაზმულობა ძალიან მომეწონა, თუ როგორ აღწერს ის მოვლენებსა და სიტუაციებს, როგორ ახასიათებს პერსონაჟებს. წიგნში მრავლად იყო ამაღელვებელი მომენტები, რამაც კულმინაციას ფინალში მიაღწია.
ადამიანი, ამ წიგნიდან ბევრს ისწავლის და გაიგებს, თუმცა ეს ჩემი ჟანრი არაა და არც მსგავსი სიუჟეტები მხიბლავს.
ცოტა გაურკვეველია, ქართველი ერის საყვარელი წიგნი რა დამსახურების გამოა [#1 "50 წიგნი, რომელიც უნდა წაიკითხო, სანამ ცოცხალი ხარ"

I liked the Balzac's word, how he describes events and situations, how
...more
Brian
A young man comes across an animal skin in a curiousity shop that will grant his every wish, though it will shrink just a bit with each wish and his life will be commensurately shorter. Naturally, he at first fulfills all his desires for wealth, etc., but soon learns that all acts of volition are desire in action. So he constructs a lfe where all his basic needs are anticipated by his servants, with whom he has no direct contact any longer. But then he finds love, which is fraught with desires, ...more
Alina Raspopina
Эта книга схожа с книгой "Портрет Дориана Грея", по своему сюжету фантастическому она очень похожа, Бальзак чудно передал как волшебно может жизнь превратится в нечто, где ты сможешь иметь всё, что захочешь.
Lisa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason
Fortunes made and spent and made and spent, obsession, debauchery, Rastignac, and Bianchon--in other words The Wild Ass's Skin is classic Balzac. Which was not exactly what I expected, since I thought this relatively early novel that he categorized in his "Philosophical Studies" section of the Human Comedy would be different from his "Studies of Manners" that is the category for most of his novels and stories. But the surprise was a mostly pleasant one.

The Wild Ass's Skin does have a fantastic b
...more
Tishke
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mayra Correa e Castro
Sessenta anos separam o lançamento de A Pele de Onagro (1831) de O Retrato de Dorian Gray (1891), mas ambos foram escritos quando seus autores navegavam pela casa dos 30 anos de idade. Se no século XXI as pessoas já ficam desesperadas se não obtiverem sucesso até os 40 anos, imagine no século XIX, quando a expectativa de vida era bem menor. Talvez por isso, Balzac (1799-1850, França) – o autor do primeiro romance – e Oscar Wilde (1854-1900, Irlanda) – autor do segundo – , devam ter ficado excita ...more
Annabelle
First published in 1832, this novel is pedantic and dense. A young man, Raphael, has lost all is wealth and has become a disrepute and gambler. He plans to throw himself into the Seine, but waits until night, and in the meantime visits an antiquities store where he receives a piece of skin from a goat from the Himalayas; it has an inscription said to be Sanskrit, He can get everything he wishes, but the skin will shrink, and when it is gone Raphael will die. There goes on a long story about his ...more
علی
La Peau de Chagrin (1831)
رافائل که از فرط ناامیدی قصد خودکشی دارد، از روی کنجکاوی وارد مغازه ای می شود. با دیدن تکه چرمی که به دیوار آویخته شده و روی آن به زبانی شرقی چیزی نوشته، مغازه دار می گوید که این تکه پوست قادر است آرزوهای صاحبش را برآورده کند. پیرمرد که می خواهد از شر وسوسه ی چرم خلاص شود، آن را به رایگان به رافائل دو والنتن پیشکش می کند اما هشدار می دهد که رافائل این هدیه را نپذیرد. والنتن بی توجه به نصیحت او، چرم جادویی را بی پرداخت سکه ای، صاحب می شود. پوست، آرزوهای والنتن را برآورده
...more
Geenyas
One star because the reader of this Tantor audio version is quite possibly the WORST reader I have ever encountered. He reads in phrases and clauses, all with the same droning intonation, and with no regard for the sense or emotion of what he is reading. Even worse, he affects a French accent which sounds more like Count Dracula. Balzac is turning in his grave. So how many stars does Balzac get for penning this tale -- hard to say, since the reader was so offputting. I'm willing to give ol' Balz ...more
Manon-Marie
Balzac a semé la terreur chez certains lycéens. Figurant souvent au programme scolaire, il faut dire que la lecture de ses romans n’est pas toujours aisée et se révèle parfois laborieuse (j’ai en tête Le Lys dans la Vallée), surtout si l’on n’est pas un adepte des classiques. Pourtant, j’ai trouvé que La Peau de chagrin se démarquait agréablement, Balzac nous livrant ici un roman à la fois fantastique, philosophique et historique, à l’histoire prenante dans un style d’écriture remarquable.
Raphaë
...more
Alexander
La Peau de Chagrin is one of the earliest Balzac's novels, however it brought him popularity.
In part, from my point if view, because the author managed to capture a dialectic connection between wishes and abilities to satisfy them. On the one hand, people's needs are extremely and even infinitely high so more and more ways to satisfy these needs must be discovered or found. On the other hand, if a person dispose of a great number of abilities (that are predominantly provided by richness), his or
...more
Alice
I have no words. This is brilliant. I can't believe I've been avoiding Balzac for so long because I thought it was boring. One of my favorite classics, for sure. I'm still trying to figure out that ending. No, actually, I'm still trying to figure out that whole book.

Je suis incapable de ne pas parler de ce livre en français, en fait. Ça fait longtemps que dans ma tête, Balzac est une personne qui écrit des longs classiques ennuyeux pleins de descriptions (ennuyeuses) que jamais je ne voudrais li
...more
D
Can't remember why I had this on my list. Balzac has some great ideas, some sharp plotting, lacks style and on the whole really uneven (dull beyond belief followed by clean goodness). Flaubert and Proust cover some of the same themes (and even scenes) with much better style. Dickens is a better read; Balzac has some moves that are exemplary.
Слави Ганев
Плаши ли ви Балзак? Изобщо? Не, не, нямах предвид със сюжетите си. Той е имал своя тъмна и непревеждана на български език страна, но тук не намеквам за нея. Плаши ли ви Балзак от училище? Не, не... отново... нямам предвид самият него, а онази даскалица със строгия поглед, пропит с омраза и ненаситно желание да ви измъчва с наизустяване и тълкуване на цели пасажи от онова прословуто описание на вратата в "Дядо Горио".

Бързам да ви кажа, че Балзак, истинският Балзак, мислите ви за който не са опетн
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Polina
"Vouloir nour brûle et Pouvoir nous détruit; mais Savoir laisse notre faible organisation dans un perpétuel état de calme. .. J'ai placé ma vie, non dans le coeur qui se brise, non dans les sens qui s'émoussent, mais dans le cerveau qui e s'use pas et qui survit à tout. .. Ma seule ambition a été de voir. Voir n'est-ce pas savoir? Savoir, n'est-ce pas jouir intuitivement? N'est-ce pas découvrir la substance même du fait et s'en emparer essentiellement? Que reste-t-il d'une possession matérielle? ...more
Jen
I kept seeing Balzac's name come up in other French novels, so I figured I'd give him a shot. What a downer! About as chipper as "The Scarlet Letter". The main character is a self-centered jackass who gets his just deserts. That's it. That's the whole story.
Maryam
براي آنكه مردي بزرگ پاك درهم شكسته شود،مي بايد از جاي بلندي بيفتد،مي بايد تا آسمان ها بالا رفته بهشت دور از دسترسي را يك نظر ديده باشد.راستي آن طوفان هايي كه انسان را بر آن مي دارد كه آرامش روح را در دهانه طپانچه اي بجويد،بايد تسكين ناپذير باشند
Czarny Pies
Nov 23, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Les amateurs de Balzac
Recommended to Czarny by: Marek Dabrowski
Shelves: french-lit
La peau de chagrin est une fable qui provient d'un grand maitre du roman realiste. Un jeune homme arrive a Paris. Il tombe sur une une peau de chagrin magique qui accorde a son detenteur tout ce qu'il souhait. Le jeune homme se donne a coeur joie a une vie de luxe et a la luxure. Il se rend compte eventuellement qu'a chaque souhait exauce la peau de chagrin se retrecit. Quand la peau disparait, la vie du jeune homme prendra fin. Une fois declenche il est impossible d'arreter le processus. Le jeu ...more
Shon McDonnell
If you like Wilde's Pic of Dorian Grey, you'll love this one. We all go through this at some point; we all consider selling our soul's in some form or other.
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Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders o
...more
More about Honoré de Balzac...

Other Books in the Series

La Comédie Humaine (1 - 10 of 86 books)
  • La maison du Chat-qui-pelote
  • The Ball At Sceaux
  • Letters of Two Brides
  • The Purse
  • Modeste Mignon
  • A Start in Life (Dodo Press)
  • Albert Savarus
  • Vendetta
  • A Second Home
  • Domestic Peace
Père Goriot Eugénie Grandet Cousin Bette (Poor Relations) Lost Illusions (La Comédie Humaine) Le Colonel Chabert

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“Il ya toute une vie dans une heure d'amour.” 17 likes
“There is something noble as well as terrible about suicide. The downfall of many men is not dangerous, for they fall like children, too near the ground to do themselves harm. But when a great man breaks, he has soared up to the heavens, espied some inaccessible paradise, and then fallen from a great height. The forces that make him seek peace from the barrel of a gun cannot be placated. How many young talents confined to an attic room wither and perish for lack of a friend, a consoling wife, alone in the midst of a million fellow humans, while throngs of people weary of gold are bored with their possessions.” 7 likes
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