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Cousin Pons

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By: (1799-1850)

Cousin Pons is one of the final works in Balzac's long novel series titled The Human Comedy. It was published in 1847, along with Cousin Betty, as one of a complementary pair of novels, collectively titled Poor Relations. While Cousin Betty tells the story of a bitter woman who seeks revenge on her wealthier relations, in Cousin Pons, Balzac turns to the story of an timid, innocent man who is exploited and victimized by the wealthier members of his extended family.

Balzac offers probing character portraits and an indictment of greed and materialism in this detailed portrait of mid-19th-century French life. He is considered one of the finest European novelists of his century and a significant influence on the development of literary realism.

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COUSIN PONS

By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Ellen Marriage

COUSIN PONS

Towards three o'clock in the afternoon of one October day in the year 1844, a man of sixty or thereabouts, whom anybody might have credited with more than his actual age, was walking along the Boulevard des Italiens with his head bent down, as if he were tracking some one. There was a smug expression about the mouth he looked like a merchant who has just done a good stroke of business, or a bachelor emerging from a boudoir in the best of humors with himself; and in Paris this is the highest degree of self satisfaction ever registered by a human countenance.

As soon as the elderly person appeared in the distance, a smile broke out over the faces of the frequenters of the boulevard, who daily, from their chairs, watch the passers by, and indulge in the agreeable pastime of analyzing them. That smile is peculiar to Parisians; it says so many things ironical, quizzical, pitying; but nothing save the rarest of human curiosities can summon that look of interest to the faces of Parisians, sated as they are with every possible sight... Continue reading book >>


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