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The Wrong Side of Paris (La Comédie Humaine)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  290 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The Wrong Side of Paris, the final novel in Balzac’s The Human Comedy, is the compelling story of Godefroid, an abject failure at thirty, who seeks refuge from materialism by moving into a monastery-like lodging house in the shadows of Notre-Dame. Presided over by Madame de La Chanterie, a noblewoman with a tragic past, the house is inhabited by a remarkable band of men—al ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Modern Library (first published 1848)
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Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
THE WRONG SIDE OF PARIS. (1848). Honore de Balzac. ***1/2.
This was apparently the last entry in Balzac’s great project in literature called “The Human Comedy.” The series consisted of about 80+ novels and short story collections that attempted to describe life in Paris after the Revolution. In this novel, the protagonist, Godefroid, stumbles upon a family-based group who seemed to be involved in a great scheme to right some of the wrongs done to many families by the affairs of the previous gover
میلاد کامیابیان
فتوحات هژبر: فاتحهی تؤامان بر فرانسه و فارسی
سخنی دربارهی ترجمهی فارسیِ «مادام دولاشانتری»

میلاد کامیابیان

برگردان هژبر سنجرخانی از «مادام دولاشانتریِ» انوره دو بالزاک –شک ندارم– نهتنها بدترین ترجمهی فارسیِ قرن اخیر، که دربوداغانترین ترجمهی اثری از بالزاک به زبانی دیگر است. برای اثبات این مدعا لازم نیست به زبان مبدأ، که فرانسه باشد، آشنا باشیم، درست به همان سیاق که مترجم لازم ندیده به زبان مقصد، فارسی، آشنا باشد؛ نیز بدیهی است که هیچ لازم نیست تمام آثار ترجمهشده به فارسی را، یا تمام آثار بالزاک را
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: balzac
Balzac is an author whose individual works can run the gamut from ill-conceived and hastily constructed to sublimely powerful novels such as Pere Goriot, Lost Illusions, A Harlot High and Low, Cousin Bette, and Cousin Pons. And I would also have to add The Wrong Side of Paris, which required a re-reading to appreciate its power. Yet, even Balzac's inferior works have their place: This is because the Comédie Humaine is like a vast continuum illuminated by greater lights and lesser lights. A vast ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
L'envers de l'histoire contemporaine=The Brotherhood of Consolation, Honoré de Balzac
عنوان: مادام دو لا شانتری - روی دیگر تاریخ معاصر ؛ نویسنده: انوره دو بالزاک؛ مترجم: هژبر سنجرخانی؛ تهران، نگاه، 1389؛ در 280 ص؛ شابک: 9789643510848؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان فرانسوی قرن 19 م
هشدار ***: پیش از خرید ترجمه فارسی کتاب، بهتر است نوشتار جناب میلاد کامیابیان را با تکه ای از متن انتخابی ایشان بخوانید، اگر منظور مترجم را متوجه شدید آنگاه این هشدار ارزشی نخواهد داشت
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic, 2013
A bit different from the usual Balzac fare. I loved the idea - a man joins a secret charitable society and gets caught up in the lives of a family that has fallen on hard times. Not a thing wrong with this book, only I wish there had been more of it! Not just the one family - more, more, more! Balzac ends it quite abruptly,something he occasionally does, and I only forgive him because his writing is so wonderful, his descriptions of character, interiors, the Parisian city-scape - all so skillful ...more
Sarah Archer-beck
Nov 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book more. I have wanted to read Balzac for a while and so jumped on this book when I found it on sale at the book store. There were some great descriptions and interesting commentaries, but the story was not that engaging and then truncated once things started to get interesting. I am a religious person, but I found the religion a little heavy-handed, especially in the first part of the book.
Stephen C.
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
WOW. Probably the best book I've read on the essence of charitable giving and the why and the how and the who that recieves the "charity". Probably a great model for today for anyone who has the resouirces to execute such a comples and somewhat "risky" approach to giving. It certainly makes you understand the critical nature of what is given and who it is given too. Worth all the time it takes to understand.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: france
Like in The Wild Ass's Skin, this is Balzac at his most eccentric (mysticism, magic, secret societies) though that's not a good thing at length (and Balzac is always over-long anyway). For a Balzac novel, there aren't nearly enough trivial furniture descriptions, and in English, this practically reads like an English translation of a French translation of mashed up bits from Chesterton and Wells.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I gather Modern Library has been trying to ride coattails of NYRB by reissuing their own selection of "forgotten masterpiece(s)" by famous authors. If this selection is any indication of their editorial process, they should fold the tent and slink out if town under cover of darkness. I love Balzac -- Cousin Bette and Pere Goriot are among my all-time favorite works -- but this novel was a real disappointment. It starts out with some promise, with a mysterious charitable organization that seems p ...more
Matthew Wilson
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I was laid up with back trouble in the late 1970s, I set myself a project to read 19th century French fiction, and my favorite was Balzac. I read all of the novels in translation in Penguin, and I read many more from the Rutgers library, but I never read this book, the last novel he published, and I'm reminded why I liked Balzac so much. Adam Gopnik's introduction helped me understand that liking -- despite B's convictions -- Catholic and monarchist -- his form is anything but traditional. ...more
Deborah Zwayer
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Make you question your own ideas of materialism & charity and who will really be there for you in the end.
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This, Balzac's last book before he died, is uncharacteristically merciful. Yes, there is a Paris so crowded that one can practically smell it; yes, there is the stumbling hero; yes, there are powerfully individual rooming houses (no novelist ever cared more about where people lived); yes, there are the plot twists that anticipate the detective novel. But it is startling to encounter Balzac describing a small group of selfless philanthropists guided by "The Imitation of Christ"--this from the man ...more
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE SEAMY SIDE OF HISTORY is certainly not Balzac’s greatest production, but it still captures the attention and is written with Balzacian charm.

Godefroid, a young man who has squandered both his opportunities and his fortune, goes to live in the sparse household of Mme. de la Charterie and is charmed by both her and his fellow lodgers. Although he does not know it at first, all the members of the household once held positions of power but have come together to live frugally and dedicate themsel
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Classic Literature, the French Revolution, Historical Novels, European History
This is the last book in Balzac's "Comédie Humaine" series. Although it is not as "flashy" as some of the other works in the series, it still displays Balzac's incredible ability to describe his characters both physically and emotionally, and the world they inhabit. His descriptions are like quick pencil sketches; with a few short, well chosen strokes a distinct and indelible image is created.

This book centers around a disillusioned young man who has run out of his approved options. Though he ha
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it
This new translation retains Balzac's power to bore. Still, an interesting tale of a dissipated Parisian finding redemption through a secret Catholic charity. Best is the description of the protagonist as a proto-hipster. Worth quoting at length:

His sense of his own impotence told him that he could aspire neither to the most blandly respectable of subordinate posts nor to the most mediocre and untaxing sort of Destiny; and he had enough will to be continually aggrieved by this, and enough wit t
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, 2008-books
This is my first intro into the literary talent of Balzac (my only exposure prior to now is a reference in the "music man" musical song pick-a-little:
Maud:Professor, her kind of woman doesn't belong on any committee. Of course, I shouldn't tell you this but she advocates dirty books.

Dirty books?!




Anyway back to the book. I knew I would enjoy this author when I read the lines"These words, so simple in themselves, were made great by the speaker's
Jeremy L
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a creative individual, one of my favorite quotes come from this book. "The right to be rude is the salary that artists exact for telling the truth."

I really enjoyed the book. I originally didn't think I would get sucked in but eventually I couldn't put it down. I found the book at a used book store for a couple of bucks. Its not a perfect book but the writing is great. Its mostly a social commentary on the nature of charity. Its set in France after the revolution. After hitting rock bottom t
Barbara Sibbald
My first venture into Honore de Balzac's opus. The man wrote 92 books in just 20 years; 81 are linked (la comedie humaine) & this is the last in that series. As Gopnik writes in the intro to this new translation, Balzac was sort of the French version of Dickens in that he shared the 19th century belief that whole worlds can be held in a single book. His novels documented the instability of the time and seek to answer the question: How do you live decently in a world that lacks decency?
Dec 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Even though it's written in prose, it reads very much like poetry. It's truly of the "slice of life" fiction genre. The two episodes (Madame de la Chanterie and The Initiate) really read as snapshots of Godefroid's life. While reading it, it seemed to me that the story being told had no real importance and was just a telling of a regular man's life.
I liked the translation of this particular edition, though I wasn't readily able to understand the currency and some of the allusions. (The notes at
Jason Furman
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, novel, classic
Balzac can't help himself, despite a didactic premise about a society of selfless people doing anonymous works of charity he can't help but let his characters, intrigues, and places shine through. This is a recent translation of the rarely translated last book in the Human Comedy. While it's certainly nowhere near the top of that set of works it is well worth reading -- and a sad reminder that there must be dozens of other Balzac novels that are just as good that haven't been translated in over ...more
Narendra Jussien
Godefroid jeune dandy parisien d��sesp��r�� et ruin�� d��cide de se reprendre en main. Il d��couvre une soci��t�� secr��te (les Fr��res de Consolation) richissime qui a d��cid�� de faire oeuvre de charit�� dans Paris. Apr��s avoir compris l'histoire de ses membres, il d��cide de faire partie de cette soci��t�� et remplit rapidement une premi��re mission ��difiante. Ce roman en deux parties pr��sente une soci��t�� souterraine de Paris. On se retrouve presqu'en Province �� Paris. Les histoires des ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Hmmmm...after being enchanted by Balzac's Lost Illusions, I found this one disappointing. A young man in early 19th century Paris becomes part of a secret society of wealthy religious people who live modestly and use their great wealth to help the poor. Could have been an interesting story, but the detailed portrayals of social, cultural and economic life in Paris that made Balzac's Lost Illusions so fascinating were missing in this one.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Penetrating look into Paris of the early 1800s. Balzac proves to be a keen observer of human nature and societal structure and writes in a very entertaining manner. I waffled between three and four stars only because of the ending, which appeared a hurried attempt to wrap up the story in a fairy-tale finale.
Don't think that I'll be reading more of Balzac, as I suspect that his novels are all cut from the same cloth.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
L'Envers de l'Histoire Contemporine has been translated variously into English as The Brotherhood of Consolation, The Seamy Side of History and The Wrong Side of Paris. It is one of Balzac's secret society stories, but this time it is a benevolent secret society. I found it fascinating, intriguing, and full of mystery.
Steve Schoenbeck
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting, but not my favorite Balzac. Would agree with Saintsbury on this: "Balzac's awkward and inveterate habit of parenthetic and episodic narratives and glances backward is not more obvious here than in many other pieces; but there is not, as in some at least of these other pieces strength enough of main interest to carry it off."
Jan 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: put-aside, french-lit
I don't know if it was me or if it was Balzac, but I could not get into this book. I thought I would like it because I've read other books by Balzac that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this one. Maybe I will give it a second chance sometime...maybe.
Sean Pagaduan
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the last book he published, right? Apparently there are at least 80(!) novels in this Human Comedy series, and I'm guessing that other installments are better than this one, which was still good anyway.
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone with a death wish
I have a policy of finishing a book that I have started, something a friend taught me. I plowed through this one, and liked the images of post Revolutionary France. But it was dry and cerebral, kind of like reading the dictionary.
My all-time favorite author. This was one of his last books to be translated I believe. Beautiful story.
Ted Leon
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Beautiful literature. Has such fond memories for me.
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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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La Comédie Humaine (1 - 10 of 88 books)
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