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Lost Illusions

by Honore Balzac

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Book Description
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. Pomona Press are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

Language Notes
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

From the Inside Flap
"Balzac [was] the master unequalled in the art of painting humanity as it exists in modern society," wrote George Sand. "He searched and dared everything."

Written between 1837 and 1843, Lost Illusions reveals, perhaps better than any other of Balzac's ninety-two novels, the nature and scope of his genius. The story of Lucien Chardon, a young poet from Angoulême who tries desperately to make a name for himself in Paris, is a brilliantly realistic and boldly satirical portrait of provincial manners and aristocratic life. Handsome and ambitious but naïve, Lucien is patronized by the beau monde as represented by Madame de Bargeton and her cousin, the formidable Marquise d'Espard, only to be duped by them. Denied the social rank he thought would be his, Lucien discards his poetic aspirations and turns to hack journalism; his descent into Parisian low life ultimately leads to his own death.

"Balzac was both a greedy child and an indefatigable observer of a greedy age, at once a fantastic and a genius, yet possessing a simple core of common sense," noted V. S. Pritchett, one of his several biographers. Another, André Maurois, concluded: "Balzac was by turns a saint, a criminal, an honest judge, a corrupt judge, a minister, a fob, a harlot, a duchess, and always a genius."

This Modern Library edition presents the translation by Kathleen Raine.

From the Back Cover

The Modern Library of the World's
Best Books

"All Balzac's characters are endowed with the zest for life with which he himself was animated. All his fabrications are
as intensely colored as dreams. From the highest ranks of the aristocracy to the lowest dregs of society, all the actors in his
Comedie are more eager for life, more energetic and cunning in their struggles, more patient in misfortune, more greedy in pleasure, more angelic in devotion than they are in the comedy of the real world. In a word, everyone in Balzac has genius....Every living soul is a weapon loaded to the very muzzle with will."

--Charles Baudelaire

About the Author
Richard Howard is a Pultizer-Prize winning poet and translator. He has translated Baudelaire, Stendhal, and Gide, among others. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.



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