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Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
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M_50x66
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Dec 07, 07

Read in December, 2007

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". He's undeniably a pleasant and engaging companion, if more than a little pompous and bombastic, and the book is a quite pleasant and enjoyable read, and most of the scenes were quite vivid and strikingly well observed, but the plot seemed rather thin, none of the characters really seemed to come alive, and the general tone was so melodramatic and so full of unnecessary asides consisting of nothing more than long strings of cliched truisms as to make it at times almost unreadable. Helas!
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Juanita Rice Alas, or, as you say,"Helas!" I must disagree with both you and Flaubert. It was Baudelaire writing that drew me into what I feared would be mere melodrama.


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