Père Goriot
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Père Goriot (La Comédie Humaine)

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  20,584 ratings  ·  642 reviews
Père Goriot can rightly be regarded as one of the greatest of Balzac’s novels,” writes Henry Reed of this masterful study of a father who sacrifices everything for his daughters. This novel marked the true beginning of Balzac’s towering project La Comédie Humaine, his series of novels and short stories depicting “the whole pell-mell of civilization.” In Père Goriot, the g...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by Signet Classics (first published 1834)
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Riku Sayuj

The Importance of Being Cynical

Rastignac’s education is the theme of the novel — provided at the expense of Père Goriot, who built up a fortune from nothing, married his daughters into wealth and was duly ignored and left to die a lonely death. This clear tragedy tells Rastignac, and perhaps France itself, what it takes to succeed in a Capitalist World: ruthlessness and a complete apathy to moral sentiments.

As Vautrin explains to Rastignac, it is illusory to think that social success can be ach...more
K.D. Absolutely
Mar 18, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, classics
No doubts on my part. This novel deserves a 5-star rating. Challenge my rating if you want and I know I can defend it, tooth and nail.

At first, this seems to be just a story of an old man, Pere Goriot and how he ends up in the pupper's grave despite being a rich businessman when he's still strong. His fault is that he loves and cares for his 2 spoiled uncaring ungrateful daughters who get all his riches and in the end don't even care going to his deathbed. However, that plot seems to be just sec...more
brian
many pre-20th century novels have the nasty habit of presenting their author's beliefs as hard, solid fact. y'know what i mean: sentences which flatly state that 'Women believe' such and such or, as per balzac (pg. 51), "Young men's eyes take everything in; their spirits react to..." (<-- to which i'd argue: no! young men's eyes don't take in shit. and if i was gonna write either/or i'd find some elegant means to qualify it). now, wishy-washy apologetic sentences deserve destruction by sharpi...more
Mon
Sep 09, 2010 Mon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 19th-c
Years ago my mum was an English literature professor and my dad a linguist at an university. Ever since I could read beyond the alphabet books I was spoon fed 'serious classic literature'. Mum had a particular passion for all things French, and I read things like The Red and the Black and Madame Bovary before Harry Potter was even published. Like most normal children, I did not enjoy anything over 200 pages with dense text about poverty and woman's fashion and instead resorted to large amount...more
Lynne King
A beautiful classic that everyone loves but not for me.

I loved the "Peau de chagrin" - by Balzac - my best essay at university. A true shame in this respect and I must confess it bothers me. All I can say is that tastes change with time...
Alex
"Lord, this world of yours is so badly made!"
- Goriot

Supremely melodramatic, fierce, sweeping, lurid, and a little gay, Goriot is a kickass novel. The most famous of Balzac's encyclopedic Comédie humaine, a series of linked stories and 91 novels that I'm not sure has ever been paralleled, this installment crams into 300 pages about six different stories and a view of Parisian life in the early 1800s that swoops from bird's eye to microscopic detail, excluding nothing. "Paris is an ocean," says B...more
Maria
I expected to like this book more, and I didn't absolutely love it perhaps because this is a precurser to the works of Hugo and Zola whose novels I really love, and somehow less refined -- in short, I was kind of disappointed, and I know this author and love him but haven't read him in a while so this may be something too. Here's what I did love: the translator, Ellen Marriage; portrayals (and utterances) of Vautrin and Eugene; despite a slow start, the author's eternal truths interspersed throu...more
Teresa
This is my third Balzac novel, and I've enjoyed every one. Each reads easily with wonderful descriptions, vivid characters, great dialogue and interesting plots. Balzac is hard on every strata of society, but there's still plenty enough good qualities in at least a few characters and enough humor sprinkled here and there to alleviate the grim reality.
Lee
It's good to study up on the history of the novel -- this one's apparently a founding father. Maybe if I'd read it with nothing to do for a week my experience would've been different, but I was too often distracted to commit to the concerns of early-19th century Paris. As such, my feelings about this one are mixed, like with Stendhal's The Red and the Black last year.

I love the expository jags, the proclamations about the behavior of all young men, all women in Paris. The essayistic asides seem...more
Jim Coughenour
"It's a great shame that so many readers owe their first (and often last) contact with French literature to the opening pages of Le Père Goriot," writes Graham Robb in his resplendent biography of Balzac. Balzac begins his book with a pages-long description of the Pension Vaquer, an impoverished boarding house where key characters will come together. I'd have to disagree; Balzac's minute description of this seedy setting, which is also a description of its landlady, Madame Vaquer, is as over-the...more
Tyler
Sep 27, 2008 Tyler rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone; Dads; Guys
Recommended to Tyler by: BBC Big Read list
Shelves: 19th-century
A distinctive element of this novel stems from its compactness. Most of the action takes place at a boarding house or a couple of other locations in Paris. The setup highlights the interaction between people, and the author’s astute observations about human nature set the story off. Balzac’s prose is superb, and his command of detail gives readers a palpable feel for the lives of people so far removed in time (1819) from us.

Goriot is a father who, among the fellow boarders, finds that rarest of...more
Bethan
Some King Lear comparisons have to be inevitable: about a rather stupid, annoying but devoted father to two spoilt and rapacious daughters who bleed him dry.

Eugene de Rastignac, a young and handsome student's choices are followed, too. He is often found in a position of having to make choices between his ambitions and his sense of honour; his existence seems to be an uneasy combination of the two.

The want for money is a big theme, and the hotbed of social ambition that Paris was. Balzac's rich...more
Niloofar
کتاب به نقد زندگی اشرافی در فرانسه می پردازد و جنبه های منفی گرایش به پول، خوش گذرانی و زندگی مادی را تا آنجا برجسته می کند که نشان می دهد فرزندان پدری که از همه دارایی خود برای آن ها گذشته است حتی هنگام مرگ او نیز به فکر عیاشی های خود هستند. متأسفانه این موضوع تنها مسئله فرانسه ی زمان بالزاک نیست و امروزه در فرهنگ خودمان نیز شاهد آن هستیم. حداقل من به عینه یک بابا گوریویی می شناسم که همواره دلم به حال او می سوزد... .
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 4* of five for the Burton Raffel translation

The review has moved to my blog.
Matteo Di Maggio
È proprio grazie a papà Goriot che capisci il vero amore di un padre verso i propri figli! Un capolavoro ottocentesco e post rivoluzionario che marchia la vecchia società parigina come spietata e discriminante verso le persone più umili, come appunto il Goriot.
Il suo amore e la sua devozione rappresentano un grande esempio di umanità, di rispetto verso la famiglia.
Papà Goriot è veramente un capolavoro!
Luana
I colori della tavolozza stanno ad un pittore, così come le parole stanno a Balzac il quale, con un tocco di pennello, ha disegnato l'umanità del diciannovesimo secolo parigino, ma in realtà anche quella del ventunesimo secolo italiano, e del diciottesimo inglese. Come un sommozzatore scandaglia il fondo marino, così Balzac è stato in grande di scandagliare l'animo umano arrivando nel fondo più profondo e descrivendo maschere sociali che, nella vita di tutti i giorni, smettono di mimare se stess...more
Larry
Another of Balzac’s studies of Parisian society and class divisions in early 19th century France. The story was initially published in serial form in 1834.

The shady character Vautrin summarized Parisian society to the young student Eugene Rastignac in this way: “If you get splashed with mud riding in a carriage you’re an honest fellow, while you’re a rogue if you get dirty on foot. If you have the bad luck to nab something from somebody you become a peepshow for the crowd at the Place du Palais...more
David Lentz
Balzac was a most enthusiastic participant of high society in Paris in his heyday principally because it yielded so many characters for his human comedy. Despite the artifice of glamor, wealth and nobility, a young attorney named Rastignac learns that it is shallow, materialistic and vain beyond all sense. Aspiring to make a name for himself, Rastignac stays in a bording house where he meets old Goriot, a vermicelli merchant with two daughters prominent in Paris society. Like King Lear, Goriot l...more
David Acevedo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin Bendana
Perhaps it is a good time as ever to read such a book as Old Goriot. Well, I am 20 years old, young, ambitious, a novice, and most of all innocent to the ways of how society works. Of course, I will feel much inclined to like the character of young Eugene Rastignac. Like Eugene, I wanted to be accepted into the upper echelon of society by entering into the legal profession as my parents and i have always dreamed of, but I wanted most of all to be accepted in so called 'modern society' through th...more
Nick
The legend of Balzac- the 3-day writing marathons fueled by gallons of coffee, the monks robe, the ridiculously grandiose ambition, the secret passage leading to a back alley used to flee from his creditors- is a most delightful one, and so I was hoping to like this, his most famous book, rather better than I did. Oscar Wilde claimed that Balzac invented the 19th century, which is probably true, but Flaubert's comment rings truer: "What a man he would have been if only he'd known how to write"....more
Cleyton Boson
Balzac is perfect in this book where the good sensibility is mere moral pretend. At first view, Father Goriot is just a good old man that wants the happiness to his daughters. But they don’t love him as he would must be loved. His daughters have shame of him and blame him of his poverty. The good old man suffers cause of this relationship through all novel and end his life in a horrible and pathetic condition.
This is a sad history to you? However, Balzac get become it much more cruel yet. Gorio...more
Gary Inbinder
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," is the title of a popular 1920's song. It is also the main theme of Père Goriot. This is a novel about the disenchantment of old age (Goriot) and youth (Rastignac) and their respective responses to life at its beginning and its end: rebellion and submission. Old Goriot learns too late that he was only "loved" for what he could give in the form of material support. Rastignac gains enlightenment from the same source: Goriot's two selfish daughters and t...more
Shelley
I don't know how I missed ever reading Balzac but I am glad I found him. I really enjoyed this book. It was depressing and sad but also had a bit of twisted humor in it. Ah the lengths that parents will go to in the pursuit of their children's happiness. That pretty much sums up the whole story. Old Goriot had a comfortable life at one time. He married his daughters to wealthy men but felt he was an embarassment to them (his own daughters and sons in law helped foster these feelings). So he move...more
Edward
Balzac, Honore de, PERE GORIOT (1834)
I had no expectations of this l9th century French effort by the prolific Balzac, but it's a fine novel, as timely now as when it was written. The question it raises is one of how a parent shows his love for his children. In Goriot's case, as with many parents today, it was to try to give the children every advantage in life he could. In his case, the resource most at his disposal was money and what it could provide.
Goriot is a plain man, lacking social con...more
Stephen
"Jamais une oeuvre plus majesteuesement terrible n'a commandé le cerveau humaine," Balzac wrote in 1834. Almost certainly so! Two main stories cross in this great novel: the story of a young, ambitious provincial, Eugène de Rastignac, who loses innocence in the complex society and moral corruption of Paris; and the tragic story of Old Goriot, who has destroyed himself financially for two daughters who care not at all for him--this latter story somewhat reminiscent of "King Lear." For someone who...more
Charles
Old Man Goriot - Old Goriot - Pere Goriot - whatever the translation's title, know that this is one of the great books of all literature. A masterpiece in its own right, Goriot is also a cornerstone of Balzac's Comedie Humaine. For the Balzac novice, this is the one to start with: If you don't like it, you probably won't like much else he wrote; if you do enjoy it, you're very fortunate because there's so much more Balzac waiting for you. And thanks to Balzac's system of recurring characters, ma...more
Sandra
“Qualsiasi male ti si dica del mondo, credilo: non v’è Giovenale che possa descriver l’orrore che si nasconde sotto l’oro e le pietre preziose!”


Esiste un romanzo perfetto? Perfetto per me, sì. Questo romanzo è Papà Goriot. Un romanzo che trascina, scombussola e travolge, in un crescendo di emozioni, partendo da un inizio un po’ noioso e poi salendo di intensità sempre più fino a soffocarti, a crearti un groppo dentro. Un romanzo scritto con uno stile perfetto, con personaggi giganteschi che racc...more
Elisa
Vedeva il mondo come un oceano di fango nel quale un uomo sprofondava fino al collo se solo v'immergeva il piede.
«Vi si commettono solo delitti meschini», si disse. «Vautrin è superiore».
Egli aveva visto le tre grandi manifestazioni della società: l'Obbedienza, la Lotta e la Rivolta; la Famiglia, il Mondo e Vautrin. E non osava decidersi.


Parigi, diciannovesimo secolo. Lo scenario della storia è diviso fra due teatri, quello misero e cadente della pensione di Madame Vauquer e quello dorato e ti...more
Lydia Presley
Original review posted here

This book floored me. I mean, jaw on the floor, gaping as I read, type of floored me. Who knew Balzac could be so approachable? I picked up this book fully expecting to struggle through it, much like my earlier trials with Middlemarch, and instead I found myself thoroughly intrigued by this drama. And Balzac himself, as narrator of the story of Father Goriot, calls it a drama, although he hastens to explain that it isn’t quite the same as those other dramas of the time...more
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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...
Eugénie Grandet Cousin Bette (Poor Relations) Lost Illusions (La Comédie Humaine) The Wild Ass's Skin Le Colonel Chabert

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“Women are always true, even in the midst of their greatest falsities, because they are always influenced by some natural feeling.” 188 likes
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