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Lost Illusions (La Comédie humaine)

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,649 Ratings  ·  205 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
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published 2009 by Folio Society (first published 1837)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 10, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-french
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
Aug 14, 2007 Alexander Santiago rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
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
Apr 03, 2015 [P] rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
For me there are a great many things that contribute to a rewarding reading experience, an almost ineffable series of qualities that a novel must possess for me to be able to enjoy it. Indeed, these things are what I am looking for when I am sat on my bed losing my mind for days on end, surrounded by shaky towers of books. Yet there is perhaps a single, fairly straightforward thing that elevates my favourites above the others, which is that I see something of myself in them. The more of myself I ...more
David Lentz
Jun 21, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 27, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan Chance
Aug 02, 2012 Megan Chance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2010 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-french
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
Justin Evans
Jan 02, 2015 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Feb 05, 2014 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Aug 06, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, french
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
Jun 04, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2012 Simona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Monty Milne
Dec 06, 2015 Monty Milne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took this book in my pocket on a recent trip to a party in north London (Hampstead), which although it only took me an hour to get there is a world away from the unfashionable hidden corner of rural England which I generally inhabit. I was struck by the same dichotomy in Balzac's novel - the city, metropolitan, glittering, exciting but corrupt - contrasted with the countryside - authentic, good, peaceful, but dull. The narrative is utterly gripping from start to finish...and yet, I find myself ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Cdrueallen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2015 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, francia
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
May 01, 2016 Katya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another example of a fantastically engaging yet encyclopedic in nature Balzac's novels. From the French province Balzac follows his main character, beautiful and feminine Lucien de Rubempré, to Paris and then back to Angoulême, observing as he, as if accidentally, keeps betraying everybody who loves him. Together with Lucien we learn about Paris high society, publishing and journalist businesses, whereas the misadventures of his friend David Séchard reveal a lot about paper-making and legal proc ...more
This is a serial novel written by the French writer Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843. It consists of three parts, starting in provincial France, thereafter moving to Paris, and finally returning to the provinces. Thus it resembles another of Balzac’s greatest novels, La Rabouilleuse (The Black Sheep, 1842), in that it is set partly in Paris and partly in the provinces. It is, however, unique among the novels and short stories of La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy, 1799–1850) by virtue of ...more
Txe Polon
Balzac destripa ese hormiguero que es la sociedad humana con mano magistral, con unos personajes que oscilan entre lo pérfido y lo inútil, pero siempre con buen tino y con un ritmo ágil gracias a unos diálogos bien tramados. Quizás parte de la segunda parte de esta novela sea un tanto farragosa, pero no desmerece el conjunto y es claramente compensado por las excelentes 1ª y 3ª partes.
Jul 10, 2015 Sylvester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, 2015
Balzac systematically lays waste every dearly held dream a young (and naive, nevermind egotistical) writer has. He does his usual, he raises him up to the heights, dazzles him, dizzies him with success and intoxicates him with admiration. Then one by one, bursts his bubbles, removes his props, and drags him through the mud. And we think - maybe he deserved that, his character was weak - but his friend David, surely things will be different for him! But, you see, there are many kinds of illusion, ...more
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:

Ahmad Sharabiani
912. Lost Illusions, Honoré de Balzac
آرزوهای بر باد رفته - انوره دو بالزاک (امیرکبیر) ادبیات فرانسه

Les illusions perdues
عنوان: آرزوهای بر باد رفته؛ اثر: بالزاک؛ ترجمه: سعید نفیسی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، امیرکبیر، 1337، در 744 ص، موضوع: داستانهای فرانسه، قرن 19 م،
Bogdan Liviu
“Unele fiinţe sunt ca nişte zerouri, le trebuie o cifră înainte, şi numai atunci nimicnicia lor dobândeşte o valoare nebănuită. Eu nu pot dobândi valoare decât printr-o alianţă cu o voinţă puternică, neînduplecată.”
Jan 08, 2011 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“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
Jun 22, 2010 Charles Matthews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jim Coughenour
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
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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 88 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

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