Sylvester's Reviews > A Harlot High and Low

A Harlot High and Low by Honoré de Balzac
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May 11, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: classic, re-read, 2016, read-a-long-time-ago
Read from October 25 to December 13, 2016

Balzac is one of the greats. He made me fall in love with French translations. His characters go deep. Loved this book.

1st read:4*
2nd read: 3*

Very surprised to find that I didn't like it as much the second time around. I mean, the plot itself is good, the characterization sometimes microscopic, the characters reminded me of Hugo - a criminal mastermind dressed up as a priest, a prostitute as a saint...and there were no good guys, it was almost modern in that aspect. The thing that got in the way of it all was the political details, the details of the court system, the details of other very boring things that didn't add to the story (in my opinion). I realize this is intended to portray a section of society at that time, as part of The Human Comedy he was compiling, but it irritated me.

I loved how Balzac took the two opposite poles of society and showed how similar they were - the aristocrats and the criminals - and how he mixed them and had them interact. Lucien and Esther were neither one of them very appealing to me. Esther's obsessive "love" for him - everyone's obsession with him, in fact, seemed completely unfounded in every way. But! I love Balzac! When he is good, he is fabulous.
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