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The Thirteen   By: (1799-1850)

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The Thirteen by Honoré de Balzac is a compelling and intricate tale that delves into the secretive world of a group of men known as "The Thirteen." Set in 19th-century France, this novel takes readers on a journey filled with political intrigue, forbidden love, and the pursuit of power.

The story follows several characters, each with their own unique motivations and backgrounds. The main protagonist, Ferragus, is a man driven by his insatiable desire to protect his beloved, the beautiful Duchesse de Grandlieu, from any harm. His unwavering devotion and incredible sacrifices make him an endearing and intriguing character throughout the narrative.

Balzac masterfully weaves together different plotlines, effortlessly transporting readers from the aristocratic salons of Paris to the labyrinthine streets of the city's underbelly. With vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to detail, the author vividly brings the settings to life, immersing readers in the sights, sounds, and smells of 19th-century France.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its exploration of the dynamics within "The Thirteen." Balzac presents a complex web of relationships and alliances, revealing the inner workings and hidden agendas of this secretive group. Through their interactions, readers gain insight into the complexity of human nature and the lengths to which people will go to protect their interests.

The Thirteen is not merely a story of romance and intrigue; it also delves into the larger social and political landscape of the time. Balzac skillfully addresses the themes of class division, corruption, and the struggle for power, providing a deeper commentary on French society during this era.

While the novel's multitude of characters can be overwhelming at times, Balzac's skill as a storyteller keeps readers engaged and invested in the outcome of each subplot. The pacing is well-balanced, with moments of intense drama interspersed with quieter moments of reflection.

However, some readers may find the occasional lengthy descriptions and digressions less engaging, as they detract from the overall momentum of the plot. Additionally, the ending may leave some wanting more closure and resolution for certain storylines.

Overall, The Thirteen is a captivating novel that offers a compelling exploration of love, power, and loyalty. Balzac's masterful storytelling, rich characters, and profound observations of human nature make this a worthy read for fans of historical fiction and classic literature. Despite its occasional flaws, The Thirteen is a thought-provoking and enthralling tale that lingers in the reader's mind long after the final page.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley and Ellen Marriage


To Hector Berlioz.


The Histoire des Treize consists or rather is built up of three stories: Ferragus or the Rue Soly , La Duchesse de Langeais or Ne touchez paz a la hache , and La Fille aux Yeux d'Or .

To tell the truth, there is more power than taste throughout the Histoire des Treize , and perhaps not very much less unreality than power. Balzac is very much better than Eugene Sue, though Eugene Sue also is better than it is the fashion to think him just now. But he is here, to a certain extent competing with Sue on the latter's own ground. The notion of the "Devorants" of a secret society of men devoted to each other's interests, entirely free from any moral or legal scruple, possessed of considerable means in wealth, ability, and position, all working together, by fair means or foul, for good ends or bad is, no doubt, rather seducing to the imagination at all times; and it so happened that it was particularly seducing to the imagination of that time. And its example has been powerful since; it gave us Mr. Stevenson's New Arabian Nights only, as it were, the other day.

But there is something a little schoolboyish in it; and I do not know that Balzac has succeeded entirely in eliminating this something... Continue reading book >>

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