Pere Goriot

  • by Honoré de Balzac
  • Narrated by Walter Covell
  • 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

One of the greatest of French novelists, Balzac, trained as a lawyer, was a great judge of human nature. In 1833 he conceived the idea of linking together his novels so that they would comprehend the whole society in a series of books. This plan eventually led to 90 novels and novellas (including more than 2,000 characters) that he called "The Human Comedy". Balzac's huge and ambitious plan drew a picture of the customs, atmosphere, and habits of bourgeois France. Among the novels of The Human Comedy is Le Pere Goriot, considered by many to be his highest achievement. Balzac's many masteries all find their fullest expression here. The novel was written when Balzac's genius was at its height and when the his physical powers were not as yet impaired by his enormous labor and reckless disregard for his health. The history of Goriot and his daughters, the fortunes of Eugene, and the mysterious work of Vautrin, not only receive due and unperplexed development, but work upon each other with correspondence and interdependence that forms the rarest gift of the novelist. Nowhere else is Balzac's charm presented in a more pervading and satisfactory manner than in this novel.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Walter Covell's low, velvet voice speaks the introduction to this novel, which predicts that the listener "will sink back among the cushions of your armchair...and lay the blame of your insensitivity upon the writer". The writer is Honorè de Balzac, early French master and chronicler of French life after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Covell's excellent French pronunciations add an air of legitimacy and paint an aural picture of Balzac's detailed portrait of a time and a people. The listener will revel in the intertwined power dynamics of Père Goriot, an aged father; a mysterious criminal named Vaurtin; a ruthless social climber named Rastignac; and most of all in the precise and exacting descriptions for which Balzac is still so highly esteemed. Ready your armchair.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

King Lear meets the French Novel

Tremendous tale of woe as Goriot's daughters display utter lack of feeling as they exploit their father's love.
A picture of the preoccupations of 19th century France and the development of Rastignac from innocent youth from the country to would-be city sophiticate. How does his integrity survive the temptations of worldly success?
Walter Covell's reading is, sadly, desultory at times which spoils the atmosphere which Balzac creates so masterfully.
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- Steve

Weak reading spoils a complex story

Pere Goriot offers fascinating insights into social turmoil in early 19th Century France. Balzac's "realist" style contributes to great descriptions of life at various levels of French society and the venality of its citizens. It's a pretty bleak indictment of institutions such as marriage and none of the characters have any redeeming features. It's supposed to be based on King Lear but there's no Cordelia! The reading is quite weak and the dialogue comes across as wooden.
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- George

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2004
  • Publisher: Jimcin Recordings