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The Quest Of The Absolute (La Comédie Humaine)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  305 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
In Balzac's classic study of obsession, a chance meeting changes Balthazar Claes' life as it introduces him to alchemy and initiates his quest of the absolute. Throughout, our sympathy is equally divided between Balthazar's single-minded determination to push back the frontiers of knowledge, and the ruin of his family.
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1834)
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Kaloyana
Sep 17, 2016 Kaloyana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Обичам историите на Балзак. Писал е през 19 век и когато го чета, винаги се чудя дали самият той е знаел, че през 21 век (почти 200 години по-късно!), много неща ще са се променили в живота ни, самият живот ще е коренно различен, но хората си оставаме същите - често зли, алчни, нещастни, пресметливи, страхливи, лъжци, заслепени от егоизъм, неспособни да живеем щастливо в мир със себе си и с другите. Жестоки. И най-жестоки - с най-близките.
Балзак е рядък познавач на човешките низости и падения в
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Jonfaith
A friend of mine recommended this to me over 20 years ago. J Barry is an excellent philosopher, a champion of Arendt and Merleau-Ponty, yet his thoughts on literature have often went awry to my own tastes. This may have been the most static exercise by Balzac which I have encountered. That isn't a dig at the maestro, just an observation. The Quest concerns an obsession, which inflicts immeasurable harm on a family. One thinks of Balzac's Wild Ass' Skin but I was drawn to compare it to Mary Shell ...more
Ben Dutton
Feb 07, 2012 Ben Dutton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“La Recherche de l’Absolu is, as has been said, a novel in itself. Taking minor points only, it is a masterpiece.” So said George Saintsbury in his introduction to the Complete La Comédie Humaine. After reading this short but powerful novel it is not hard to agree – contained in this story is the essence of Balzac, the purest of his writing, some of his most powerful. I had heard La Recherche de l’Absolu called his finest novel and it indeed maybe which makes it all the more surprising that ther ...more
Vittorio Ducoli
Jan 01, 2013 Vittorio Ducoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quando la rovina viene dalla chimica

Rispetto a quelli contenuti nei precedenti volumi da me letti, questo romanzo di Balzac è meno incentrato sugli aspetti sociali e politici della Francia dell'inizio del XIX secolo, e apparentemente si focalizza più su tematiche personali e familiari.
Nella Fiandra francese l'antica famiglia dei Van Claës è una delle più stimate della cittadina di Douai, ed unisce alle solide tradizioni borghesi della regione il lustro di apparentamenti con l'aristocrazia spagno
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Yves
Feb 04, 2014 Yves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xixe-siècle, france
Ce roman de Balzac raconte l'histoire d'un homme qui délaisse sa femme et ses enfants pour une passion particulière : la science. Balthazar Claës mènera sa famille dans la misère durant sa recherche de l'absolu.

À la fin de ce livre, j'ai eu l'impression d,avoir lu une histoire sur un homme qui était accros à l'héroïne. La passion de Claës devient pour lui l'équivalent d'une drogue dure dont il est presque impossible de se défaire. On ne peut qu'éprouver de la tristesse pour sa famille qui est in
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Dagny
The Quest of the Absolute (La Recherche de l'Absolut) is a masterful study of a man's obsession and the effect it has, not only on him, but on his family. The title also been translated as The Alkahest. M. Claes has an extremely happy home life with his wife and four children until something grabs his imagination and he begins to study chemistry. Suddenly, even though he is physically at home, in his lab, his family feels almost abandoned.
Steve Gordon
Oct 02, 2011 Steve Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant Balzac as always. This story in a modern reading feels much more like the experiences of a family being ripped apart not by a scientist immersed in his genius, but by an addict laying waste for his high.
Biblionomicon
Aug 04, 2012 Biblionomicon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Wer immer strebend sich bemüht, den wollen wir erlösen", so singt es der Chor der Engel am Ende von Goethes Faust. Auch wenn wir nicht zum Ziel gelangen, so ist es doch unser Streben nach dem höheren Ziele hin, das alleine schon zu lobpreisen ist. Der Weg ist das Ziel. So ist denn auch die Suche nach Wissen, meist konotiert mit dem edlen und guten Verlangen des Strebens nach Erkenntnis, ein Unterfangen, das kein festes, greifbares Ziel umfasst. Die Frage nach dem "warum?" lässt immer noch Raum
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Stephanie Jane
Also included in the ForgottenBooks edition of Seraphita that I recently read was another of Balzac's Comedie Humaine novellas, The Alkahest. Set in Flemish Belgium, the story concerns a well-heeled family who are driven to the brink of poverty when the father develops an all-consuming passion for chemistry, specifically alchemy. Perpetually convinced that he is at the threshold of a discovery to bring glory and untold riches to his family, he squanders generations of accumulated wealth and poss ...more
Lisa
Jan 04, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Balzac Yahoo Reading Group
Shelves: kindle, c19th, france
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Özge Mö
"İnsan mutlağın varlığını duyumsayıp, burada evrenin gizemini taşıyorsa eğer, ne yaptıklarını bilmeden saati gelince birbirine saldıran insan sürülerinin peşinden sürüklenerek yaşayabilir mi ? Şimdi ki yaşamını düşün tam tersi. Bedenim gidip geliyor, hareket ediyor, ateşin, insanların, topların arasında dolaşıyor hor göre göre boyun eğdiği bir güün keyfine bağlı, Avrupa'yı bir baştan bir başa katediyor. Ruhumun bütün bunlardan haberi bile yok;bir düşünceye dalmış bu düşünceyle uyuşmuş, kıpırdama ...more
David
Aug 21, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There really is a reason why some of Balzac's novels are his well known works and others are not. He wrote some brilliant books. However, this is not one of those. He wrote some awful ones too, and this is not one of those either. This one is just mediocre. It's an overdone story with fairly flat characters. Mostly, it's hack work. Still, it's better than "Seraphita."
Dottie
Read this one a while before we read it on Classics Corner -- I loved it both times -- it added to the enjoyment that we were living in Belgie when I first read this and was familiar with many of the places where the story is set.


http://web.archive.org/web/2007083116...
John
Nov 30, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I am starting to like the style of Balzac's writing. This work did have some good characters but the story was a repeat of the same thing over and over, 5 times I think. A story of addiction. to science of all things.
afaf
May 31, 2012 afaf rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
رواية جيدة ،عن أسرة استقراطية فرنسية تعاني من تولع الأب بعلم الكيمياء ونذره لنفسه وماله في سبيل كشف المطلق فيه.

هذه تجربتي الأولى مع بلزاك ،وكان العمل مذهلا لولا تخييم مشاعر الحب والرحمة على أجواء الرواية على الطريقة الرومانطقية الحالمة والتي لا تروق لي بتاتا.
آلاء  بن سلمان
قد تكون الرواية جميلة في ذاتها وبها مايستحق ، لكني كرهتها ، كرهت ما أراد قوله ، كرهت مثالية شخصياته الحمقاء ، ومثالية الأحداث ، وتوصيفه الذي يبدي به سهولة الحصول على حياة مثالية .
ظننت أني سأحب بلزاك وخاب ظني وأضعت وقتي
Kassie
Feb 05, 2014 Kassie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ENFIN fini ! Je n'aimerai jamais Balzac. C'est juste pas possible...
Marta
Feb 08, 2014 Marta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a Page turner!
Lucy Traves
Jun 20, 2013 Lucy Traves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A chilling tale of monomania, heartbreaking as it moves to its inevitable conclusion.
Fatoom Maasher
أبطال هذه الروايه حساسون ومثاليون جداً الكره لا يعرف إلى قلوبهم سبيل و طوال الوقت "تترقرق" أعينهم بالدموع وهذا شيئ مستفز للغايه.
Alia
Sep 28, 2013 Alia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story is very interesting, I love the themes but the drama was extremely slow with maybe too much description over and over.
Slagorce
Slagorce rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2014
France
France rated it really liked it
May 17, 2015
Caro Conze
Caro Conze rated it really liked it
Feb 28, 2017
Dorothée
Dorothée rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2011
Hyperion
Hyperion rated it liked it
Aug 07, 2016
Diliana Ivanova
Diliana Ivanova rated it really liked it
Sep 30, 2016
Susana
Susana rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2008
Jonathan
Jonathan rated it really liked it
Jun 08, 2016
Jackie
Jackie rated it it was amazing
Jul 31, 2007
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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
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More about Honoré de Balzac...

Other Books in the Series

La Comédie Humaine (1 - 10 of 88 books)
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  • The Ball At Sceaux
  • Letters of Two Brides
  • The Purse
  • Modeste Mignon
  • A Start in Life
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