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Lost Illusions (La Comédie Humaine)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  4,265 ratings  ·  173 reviews
A Angoulême, David Séchard, un jeune poète idéaliste, embauche dans son imprimerie un ami de collège, Lucien Chardon, qui prendra bientôt le nom de sa mère, Rubempré. Poète lui aussi, il bénéficie d'une sorte de gloire locale et fréquente le salon de Louise de Bargeton à qui le lie bientôt une intrigue sentimentale qui fait tant jaser que tous les deux partent pour Paris. ...more
Paperback, 656 pages
Published May 5th 2006 by Dodo Press (first published 1837)
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Goodreads Top 100 Literary Novels of All Time
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.

When I left the farm at the age of 18 and jerry rigged my battered Camaro into a sputtering, but functional machine that could, by the grace of all that is holy, get me to Phoenix. I might have bore resemblance to Lucien de Rubempre the hero of Lost Illusions. Well, okay, there were some differences. I did not look like a Greek God. I did not have David Sechard as a best friend who lent me his last 1,000 francs fo
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Honore de Balzac wasn't finished writing yet when he died on 18 August 1850. Yet at the time of his death he had already written a good number of journal articles and some 90 novels. The literary characters he had created are estimated to be between 2,000 to 3,000. Was he sick? Did he have some sort of a mania for writing on and on? No. The secret of his prolificness, I guess, was in his favorite drink. It was said that at one time he wrote for 18 straight hours, without sleep, subsisting only o ...more
Alexander Santiago
Of all of Balzac's novel, "Lost Illusions" is my absolute fave (I've reread it about 5 times). The story of a young man, the preternaturally beautiful Lucien Chardon (de Rubempre), a fledgling poet who wants to escape his provincial life in the town of Angouleme, and dreams of literary success and hobknobbing with the beau monde, the wealthy, and the literati in the grand salons in the big city of Paris (much like any of us who grew up in small towns and cities and dreamt of leaving for somethin ...more
As a young man from the provinces, I do so enjoy a "young man from the provinces" novel - that being said, this might be the mother of all such works, primarily because of Balzac's unrelenting attention to detail. Like many a novelist who pretends to traffic in moral opposition (literature good, journalism bad!) Balzac saves his juiciest and most loving description for the baddies - the description of the pestilent Wooden Galleries where literary fortunes are bought and sold in shanty-town books ...more
David Lentz
As much as I enjoyed Pere Goriot, Lost Illusions is the kind of a literary work that lets you peer into the soul of a great mind and dwell there. Just as Lucien was Balzac, the lost poet, David Sechard, the printer, is also Balzac the craftsman in real life: he bought a print shop in Paris to print his own novels. Sechard is much like the scientist in the Quest of the Absolute, except that David ultimately finds himself through his invention and the inventor in The Quest becomes lost to his own ...more
Megan Chance
I thought I was cynical before this, but Balzac has made me see that I suffer from a severe lack of imagination. My God! Lost Illusions could not be a more apt title for this book. The milk of human kindness is seldom in evidence here, and when it is, it is annihilated by self interest, jealousy and malice. I have rarely read a book that had me more tense, uncertain whether to pray for a character’s deliverance (usually a pointless exercise in French lit), bang his/her head against the wall, or ...more
Interesting, long, archaic... reading Braudel simultaneously illuminates many of the details of a work that stands at the start of the process of the modernization and embourgeoisement of Europe. As for theme, I have myself met more than a few who, flattered by powerful people, fell in love with their own myth -- only, in real life, most of them have flourished and flourished quite well. It is those with conscience and scruple, more often than not, who have suffered. But maybe that is a sign of ...more
While there were issues with the structure of the novel, the disparate scenarios involving Lucien and David are removed from one another to a cumbersome degree. Compounding this, the tragedy which envelops David and Eve is soaked and blurred in jargon and legal asides. I sense that Balzac was thinking long-term and indifferent to these quibbles. That said, Lost Illusions is a narrative triumph and one i will treasure.
Justin Evans
At the risk of sounding self-aggrandizing, I read this while holidaying in Paris, and that was a great choice. It's only my second Balzac, and already I'm pretty sure what I'm going to get: straight plot, semi-mythical characters, and not a whole lot of style. This isn't really my kind of thing, but Balzac is just so all-in that it's hard not to get pulled along in his wake. And anyway, he's so explicitly writing about great abstractions (here: Art, Media, Capitalism, Class, Love) that I'll alwa ...more
Lost Illusions (Illusions Perdues) is a trilogy of three novels which should be read in order:
The Two Poets (Les Deux Poetes)
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris/A Great Man of the Provinces in Paris (Un Grand homme de province a Paris)
Eve and David/The Trials of the Inventor (Le Souffrances de l'inventeur)

The story continues in a fourth novel:
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life/A Harlot High and Low (Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes)

See the individual titles for more information.
Henry Martin
Balzac's Lost Illusions is a massive literary undertaking, and an attempt to delve deep into the world of humanity with all its great deeds and basest desires. Yet, taking the entire volume of Balzac's Human Comedy into perspective, Lost Illusions is nothing but a small piece of the enormous mosaic this author created in the short span of a decade.

Like with all his works I read to date, Lost Illusions offers its readers spectacular writing, well developed characters, just enough but not too muc
Illusions! Lost ones! Where are they? Joking about it now, 'lost illusions' is a really sad thought, you can never get them back! The notion of illusion in fiction is something really interesting to me, and I think I dwell on it quite a bit in my reviews either consciously or unconsciously. I mean, is there anyone really without illusions? I hope not, it seems like an awfully sad life to live without illusions. Whenever I think of illusionment or disillusionment, my mind always floats away to Wa ...more
Balzac, Honore de. LOST ILLUSIONS. (1837-1843; Eng. Trans. 1971). ****. First off, you need a lot of quiet time to read this massive novel by Balzac. It is not an airplane or a beach book. This novel is one of the cornerstones of Balzac’s vast panorama of French society, The Human Comedy. The series itself comprises over a hundred novels, short stories and studies. It belongs to the section of this series titled Scenes of Provincial Life, even though over half of the novel takes place in Paris. ...more
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Baudelaire ha definito Balzac come “l’uomo dalle imprese iperboliche e fantasmagoriche”. Se si legge la sua biografia, si comprende come tutto in lui fosse eccessivo, al di sopra delle righe, quasi che dentro di sé vi fosse una potente energia centripeta a stento trattenuta. La sua scrittura è come l’uomo Balzac: brillante, ricca, sovrabbondante. A mio parere magnifica. Nonostante i miei gusti letterari siano orientati verso una scrittura raffinata ed elegante, ma equilibrata, come quella di Fla ...more
Leggendo questo libro, mi sono resa conto di quanto mi sia mancato leggere Balzac, i personaggi, lo stile che fanno parte della sua opera.
"Le illusioni perdute" è come recita il titolo, una storia di illusioni, di speranze cadute, di sogni infranti, di speranze mai realizzate o realizzate solo in parte, una storia contorniata da aspetti amari e tristi rappresentati nella figura di Luciano Chardon.
Luciano Chardon, il personaggio principale, nel quale si può identificare Honoré de Balzac, è figl
Julia Boechat Machado
Diziam do Balzac que ele concorria abertamente com o registro civil. E que ele falava de seus personagens como pessoas reais.
Desde o início o autor fala da queda de Lucien de Rubempré, pois era óbvio o que aconteceria. As palavras dele sobre sociedade, mercado editorial e jornalismo são brilhantes.
Balzac não descreve personagens planos. David Séchard, Éve e Madame Chardon são bons, íntegros, trabalhadores, mas não são perfeitos, porque foram eles que mimaram Lucien e o tornaram indolente, incons
Dec 08, 2013 S. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I put this aside, as the publisher couldn't get past page one without inserting an error into Balzac's masterpiece. When I get a different edition, I hope to resume this read. $16 down the drain.

I complain about the error here:


“We spend the latter part of our lives in mowing down what we grew in our hearts when young. We call that operation ‘acquiring experience’,” a cynical and corrupt priest explains to Lucien Chardon, the young poet.

The book chronicles the life of Chardon, a modestly talented, idealistic poet in the provinces, whose obsession is to quickly climb the ranks of the highly stratified class system in France in the 1820s. His wit, charm and good looks propel him through a series of mistresses and sponso
Joe Salas
I started reading this book because i saw a cute boy on the subway reading a paperback with a fabulous Ingres painting of a handsome 19th century French man on the cover. Couldn't catch the title but I noticed at the very least it was a Balzac book. So I immediately rushed off to Barnes & Nobles on 86th St and browsed the Balzac books on the shelf. I found the very same paperback, turned out it was Lost Illusions. Well I immediately bought it and began reading straightaway. I must have rathe ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This is a trilogy, consisting of:

Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris and
Eve and David

Originally published separately in 1837, 1839, and 1843, they are now usually combined in one volume under the title of Lost Illusions. However, if you find them separately, be sure to read them in that order.

This starts very slowly. Had I not read other Balzac, I might not have continued past the first 40-50 pages. Soon, however, the story begins to reveal itself, and I could not help myself. There are
Charles Matthews
First off, Herbert J. Hunt's translation, which was first published in 1971, is exceptional, not so much because of accuracy -- to which I can't speak -- but because of its extraordinary readability. It has the feel of an early 19th century novel, which of course it is, though some translators believe that everything must be turned into a more contemporary idiom. The chief deficiency of the edition is the comparative lack of footnotes to clue the reader into Balzac's allusions to French history ...more
Fans of Oscar Wilde may remember his epigram: “One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of Lucien de Rubempré.” Lucien doesn't die in Lost Illusions – although he comes close to suicide, only to be saved in the nick of time by the arch-criminal Vautrin (first encountered in Père Goriot ), who is one of literature's great wicked homosexuals avant la lettre. In this book, Vautrin may or may not seduce Lucien with a cigar; back in 1997 there was a mildly comical exchange on this point ...more

I liked this novel quite a bit, but I have to admit that while I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t a book that drew me back in again and again. I took my time getting through it.

The story follows the young ambitious poet Lucien Chardon who leaves his native town of Angoulême for Paris to make his fortune. At home he had become the darling of Mme de Bargeton, a figure of high society who is a patron of the arts. But Lucien quickly finds himself abandoned in Paris and without funds. Lucien turns to th
Yasmin Rodrigues
I was chocked with Balzac's descriptions about Lucien's thoughts, so true for an ambicious mind, that lead him to a complete personal disaster, with his mind full of illusions. oh, the illusion... such a charming feeling, that tricks us with sculptural possibilities. For me the illusion is one of the most beautiful feelings, because can change anything, can trick you in the way you want, it's something inherent to the human being. That's how I feel and how I felt about Lucien while reading this ...more
I had a hard time getting into this novel. The initial descriptions of the boarding house almost did me in. But, once Balzac started developing the characters and their relationships, I became hooked. It is not one of the happier visions of social relations, but it provides a fascinating glimpse into the upper class French society of times as well as insights into human character and behavior that still resonate today.
alessandra falca
Alessandro Piperno nella sua introduzione a questo classicone di H.De Balzac, di cui beata me, non avevo ancora letto niente, dice di leggere subito a ridosso il suo sequel, ovverosia "Splendori e miserie delle cortigiane". Come fare? Correre a comprarlo e intanto assaporare ancora la bellezza di questo libro che ruota intorno a tre personaggi: Lucien, David e Eve. Che ruota intorno alle dicotomie classiche: campagna/città, ricchi/poveri, generosi/avari, furbi/scemi. Che si fa leggere come si le ...more
Ana Carvalheira
Sublime!! Tudo ... a prosa, a narrativa, as personagens, o quadro social, urbano e rural da França do primeiro quarto do século 19.

Nunca li nada de Honoré de Balzac que não tivesse pura e simplesmente adorado! É um autor notável com vasta obra publicada mas infelizmente com poucos títulos traduzidos em português.

Recomendo vivamente a leitura de Ilusões Perdidas que narra as aventuras e desventuras de Lucien du Rubempré, um jovem e belo poeta que troca a família e a vida pacata de Angouleme para
Chiunque sostenga che Balzac sia un autore pesante, moralista o eccessivamente prolisso lo ha probabilmente letto con superficialità, oppure riporta luoghi comuni dovuti al modo in cui l'autore è trattato al liceo e, spesso, anche all'università. Questa è almeno la mia impressione dopo aver letto questo capolavoro, un libro meraviglioso in cui amicizia, amore, denaro, ambizione, gelosie, tradimenti, meschinità e ideali si intrecciano formando una trama fittissima e avvincente fino all'ultima pag ...more
Surprisingly good and readable for 1820's French lit. Excellent translation. Ambitious rise and fall story set between rival provincial towns and grand Paris. Explores secular and religious class struggles, food and fashion, poetry and prose, a biting dissection of daily life of the time.
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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 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) The Wild Ass's Skin Le Colonel Chabert

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