Scenes from a Courtesan's Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
read book* *Different edition

Scenes from a Courtesan's Life (La Comédie Humaine)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  921 ratings  ·  45 reviews present you this new edition. ESTHER HAPPY; OR, HOW A COURTESAN CAN LOVE
ebook, 829 pages
Published September 15th 2010 by Pubone.Info (first published 1847)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,119)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
So Balzac's father added the "de". It was invented not inherited. Such utility is brought to bear in the two novels Lost Illusions and A Harlot High and Low. Both chronicle the verve of self-creation, first in Lost Illusions in a literary/journalistic context and later in this novel with simple grift. The entire novel is serial cons against the Church, society, the bourgeois and finally the Courts. I obviously didn't swallow this novel whole. This approach necessitated ongoing rereading to reori...more
Balzac explores the artistic life of Paris in 1821-22, and furthermore the nature of the artistic life generally. He does it in a great way. He starts a simple story of a weak young man helped by an older, more experienced and cunning tutor and then it explodes into a multi-novel epic. The narrative is powerful enough to carry readers past any of the flaws – I wasn’t bored for one single second. The deception, corruption, and trickery, at every level of society are brilliantly displayed, often a...more
Years ago, I was reading one Balzac after another, after another. Someone sold a set of six or seven novels at a used book store for something like a dollar each in Santa Monica, California circa 1997. 10 bucks and a stack of Balzac.
Non ci posso far nulla: ormai, tra me e Balzac, è amore. E sarà amore eterno. Perché da quando ho letto "Papà Goriot", seguito da "Illusioni perdute", "Sarrasine", "Eugénie Grandet", "La ricerca dell'assoluto" e tanti altri ancora, il mio modo di leggere romanzi è cambiato.

Ho appena finito di leggere "Splendori e miserie delle cortigiane", che è il naturale proseguimento dei primi due libri che ho citato; questo poiché, nell'universo balzachiano, i personaggi si incontrano e si scontrano in dive...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
A Harlot High and Low, sometimes called Scenes From a Courtesans Life, is the sequel to Lost Illusions which should be read first. It is also a tetralogy comprised of:

Esther Happy: How a courtesan Can Love
What Love Costs an Old Man
The End of Evil Ways
Vautrin's last Avatar

Should you come across these as separate works, be sure to read them in the above order.

Some readers prefer Harlot/Courtesan over Lost Illusions, but I did not. This volume is so plot-driven that, for me, most of the characters...more
Julia Boechat Machado
Será que Oscar Wilde realmente disse: “One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of Lucien de Rubempré... It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh”? É apropriado.
Nick Tramdack
Be sure to read the sequel to Lost Illusions also.

Line notes keyed to the Penguin translation with the cover above.

29: "She would not have been a liberal, a courtesan is always a monarchist."
39: "[Vautrin] seemed to know his way about households of this kind, he knew where everything was. He had made himself at home. This gift of being everywhere at home belongs only to kings, light women and thieves." [so cool for Vautrin, who is a little bit of all three]
42: Esther: "And then only those li...more
Balzac, Honoe de. A HARLOT HIGH AND LOW. (1839-1847). *.
This novel is, I think, not typical of Balzac’s works. It is an extremely difficult read, and forces the reader to assimilate a large cast of characters in a very short time. Unlike his other books, Balzac does not spend a lot of time developing his characters’ background or giving us early clues as to which of them will continue to play an important role in this book. Of the more than 500 pages in this Penguin Classics edition, I was only...more
Scenes from a Courtesan's Life (Splendeurs et Miseres des Courtisanes), also translated as A Harlot High and Low, is a sequel to the Lost Illusions (Illusions Perdues) trilogy and will be a more enjoyable reading experience if they are read first for the character background and prior adventures.

The Lost Illusions trilogy was set in Angouleme and Paris. Scenes from a Courtesan's Life returns to Paris for the further history of Lucien Chardon de Rubempre. This novel is rich in characters from oth...more
Nel complesso sono felice di averlo letto, aveva dei passi straordinari, delle riflessioni meravigliose sul carattere e sulla psicologia dei personaggi, scene da togliere il respiro. Purtroppo mancava della continuità e dell'unità del suo predecessore, 'Illusioni Perdute', che considero un capolavoro assoluto. Questo libro invece è a tratti caotico e discontinuo.

La prima parte, 'Come amano le cortigiane', è dedicata alla figura di Esther, prostituta che vuole 'redimersi' per amore. E' un po' un...more
Dwa, a właściwie trzy, mam problemy z tą powieścią, z punktu widzenia czytelniczki coś tam wiedzącej o literaturze epoki, ale ani romanistki, ani specjalistki od XIX wieku, ani znawczyni Balzaka, stąd te uwagi będą mało profesjonalne i kompletnie osobiste.
Po pierwsze: postacie i ton. Znaczy się, przemieszanie błyskotliwych obserwacji psychologicznych i społecznych z charakterami i postaciami rodem z popkultury, z nadludzkimi królami zbrodni i agentury na czele; przemieszanie fabuły z obyczajami...more
antonio brito
Balzac não saberia dizer o que é uma “anta”, vocábulo brasileiro que serve tanto para pessoa estúpida ou ignorante, como para um animal. Porém foi este belo achado de tradução que Ilana Heineberg encontrou para adaptar o “buse” do Francês, que tanto pode indicar um tipo de ave como uma “persone ignorante et stupide”. Buscar este paralelismo na tradução, uma interpretação do texto para o leitor atual, é o que se pede na tradução hoje. Esta traduç...more
Although not exactly a sequel to Lost Illusions, it continues the thread of that story (however it also continues stories begun in other volumes of the Human Comedie). It is perhaps for that reason, that I found the first 200 pages to be a bit confusing. It also has one of the most complicated plot lines of almost any novel I have ever read. However, I like these types of books because you get a sense of Paris low life in the early 19th Century (Post Napoleon). You really have to suspend your di...more
Mary  Goodnight
Ce n'est pas forcément la conclusion flamboyante qu'on attendait à la Comédie humaine et à ses deux chefs d'oeuvre, Le Père Goriot et Illusions perdues. Mais Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes n'en demeure pas moins un grand Balzac, tableau incisif des moeurs de la France de 1830. Ce sont trois romans en un seul : une histoire d'amour impossible entre une "fille" et Lucien, jouet de l'ambition de Vautrin dans son ultime réincarnation ; une farce peuplée de personnages pittoresques (Europe, As...more
Steve Walker
A Harlot High and Low is a slightly larger novel than I am used to from Balzac, and about three quarters of the way through I thought that all of the major plot points had resolved, and wondered why I still had 100+ pages to go? Well, there was a pay-off that I had not seen coming and it was well worth persevering to the end of the book – that’s all I’m going to say on that score.

Set in 19th century Paris, the novel reunites us with some characters that featured in earlier novels from the Balzac...more
Megan Chance
The continuation of the story of Lucien de Rubempre from "Lost Illusions," wherein Lucien falls under the influence of the villain Jacques Collin (aka many other names), from "Pere Goirot," which I have not yet read and probably should have before I read "Lost Illusions.". Lucien manages to remain a slow learner in this book, but Balzac's ability to make you like and cheer for villains and weak-willed semi-villains is amazing. I wanted Collin to win from the moment he appeared in "Lost Illusions...more
Narendra Jussien
Histoire d'une courtisane : Esther Gobseck. Trois romans dans ce roman : Esther et Lucien (de Rubempr��), Esther et Nucingen, Lucien et Vautrin (alias Carlos Herrera, Jacques Collin, Trompe-la-mort). Le lien entre ces trois destins est Vautrin qui offre la r��demption �� Esther pour la donner �� Lucien, qui d��prave Esther pour d��pouiller Nucingen et qui fait tout pour sauver Lucien de la prison. Une peinture sans complaisance du 19e si��cle. La quatri��me partie (��crite bien apr��s les autres...more
A selection from the "Scenes of Parisian Life" novels of Balzac includes elements of finance, intrigue, the Parisian underworld and the police. As the title suggests the Harlot in the story experiences the vicissitudes of life with her days of wealth and luxury numbered and ultimately offset by misery. But she is merely a pawn in the hands of criminal masterminds at whose apex is Vautrin, the Satanic genius at the heart of the story. He is one of the greatest of Balzac's many memorable character...more
Gabi Ghimis
Osacr Wilde loved this, so I read it. A long time ago. Great book, with complex characters and a fantastic patience for reconstructing the french society and its social intricacies. Lucien, Esther and Vautrin make this worth reading.

Be patient with Balzac's penchant for details and understand that this book, although in it of itself of formidable girth, is part of a larger collection. It takes some time to get used to the times and the heavily footnoted character histories, but when you do it is...more
Paddy Docherty
Jun 01, 2008 Paddy Docherty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone
A wonderful read! Gripping and unusual, and very funny in places - especially where Esther is running rings around Nucingen. Easily the dominant figure is Vautrin, of course, and I enjoyed reading more about him having read other Balzacs such as "Old Goriot". He's a sympathetic figure, and I wanted his schemes to work out, even though they were outrageous...

The principal theme in this book is money and what it can and can't buy - power, love, respect, etc. There is much selling out for financia...more
Who doesn't like a novel about a fallen woman? What fallen women are more glorious than those who tumbled through the Belle Epoque? Nobody does it better than Balzac and that includes Zola. I read this after reading Lost Illusions. I didn't have to; it stands alone. But one of the glories of Balzac is to meet characters from other novels once again at new points of ascent or descent in society, in love, in business, in life. Start here, go to Lost Illusions, then toddle off to Pere Girot, it doe...more
Peter Ellwood
What a pleasure, after a gap of many years, to come back to Balzac. Part of the grander Comédie Humaine cycle of novels it takes forward the lives of our old friends Vautrin and Lucien de Rubempré. I won't make any detailed comments about the plot as it would contain some serious spoilers for those who like to encounter their plots fresh. But one doesn't really need to disclose the details: Balzac's capacity to come up with twists and turns is undiminished, his prose is as rich as chocolate sauc...more
Mary Harju
Mar 04, 2008 Mary Harju rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those who've read lost illusions
This is the sequel to Lost Illusions, a novel so intriguing that one must have more. The first two thirds were wonderful. Balzac introduces the reader to Esther, the female counterpart to Lucien de Rebempre, whose art is that of the courtesan. Lucien is also back and better than ever, and he develops a fatal passion for this beautiful woman of the demi-monde. The last third moves more slowly and involves a denumont revealing to us the fate of the anti-hero Dodgedeath, one of Balzac's most gritty...more
Jul 28, 2013 Adriana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Quem leu Ilusões Perdidas
Shelves: francesa, romance
Pobre Lucien! Se viu enredado pelo que Mefisto_Vautrin_Herrera_Jacques tinha o oferecer, deu uma volta enorme para terminar exatamente onde havia estado ao final de Ilusões Perdidas! Fechando a trilogia de Jacques Collin, começada por Goriot e Ilusões, Esplendores mantêm a qualidade do primeiro e fica aquem do segundo, mas aqui temos a certeza de que se as mulheres de Balzac são estupendas, o seu melhor personagem é mesmo o maquiavélico Collin.
Tikra klasika - Balzakiška. Labai patiko, kad kai kurie veikėjai pasirodo iš kitų Balzako kūrinių. Kiek netikėta kulminacija ganėtinai įtraukė. Galiausiai pasijutau palaikanti veikėjus-blogiečius. Tikriausiai autorius tuo tyčia siekė pademonstruoti valdžios ir aukštuomenės supuvimą. Tai va - ne tik mūsų laikais mum mūsų valdžia ir teisingumo organai niekaip neįtinka. :)
Elida Z
Esther, i wish i could love fully like her..

The end is way too optimistic, for a realist like Balsac. Anyways, the story makes you want to live in the 18th century just to see that life and to taste it with your own senses..beautiful
An interesting book about a man coming to Paris with no means of support, falls in love, and that starts an interesting journey. It is truly a tale about love, set in a backdrop of debauchery and manipulation.
Vive Vautrin! Balzac's "heroes" are usually milquetoasts, but his villains are superlative. Vautrin's machinations were the most interesting part of the book.
Another of my favorites by Balzac -- a love story and crim novel all in one with nineteenth century Paris and all its debauchery as the backdrop.
Anna Pervukhin
Jan 12, 2008 Anna Pervukhin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of the Red and the Black
Recommended to Anna by: Ben S.
Original, well plotted and deliciously elusive. Very poorly written, but, as the alcoholics say, you don't drink for the taste.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 70 71 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's up with this translation?? 2 5 Mar 15, 2014 12:32PM  
  • Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart, #10)
  • Mademoiselle de Maupin
  • Les Diaboliques
  • Salammbô
  • Pleasures and Days
  • Adolphe
  • Fortunata and Jacinta: Two Stories of Married Women
  • The Gods Will Have Blood (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
  • The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Ninety-Three
  • Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe
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...
Père Goriot Eugénie Grandet Cousin Bette (Poor Relations) Lost Illusions (La Comédie Humaine) The Wild Ass's Skin

Share This Book