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.
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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King Lear meets the French Novel
Weak reading spoils a complex story