Eugénie Grandet, first published in 1833, is one of Honoré de Balzac's finest novels, and one of the first works in what would become his large novel series titled La Comédie Humaine. Set in a provincial town in post-Revolutionary France, the story deals with money, avarice, love, and obsession. A wealthy old miser must manage the passion of his innocent daughter, who later has to navigate on her own the treacherous ways of a world in which money is "the only god." Balzac's meticulous use of psychological and physical detail influenced the development of 19th-century literary realism, in the hands of writers such as Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, and Henry James.
First Page:EUGENIE GRANDET
By Honore De Balzac
Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley
May your name, that of one whose portrait is the noblest ornament of this work, lie on its opening pages like a branch of sacred box, taken from an unknown tree, but sanctified by religion, and kept ever fresh and green by pious hands to bless the house.
There are houses in certain provincial towns whose aspect inspires melancholy, akin to that called forth by sombre cloisters, dreary moorlands, or the desolation of ruins. Within these houses there is, perhaps, the silence of the cloister, the barrenness of moors, the skeleton of ruins; life and movement are so stagnant there that a stranger might think them uninhabited, were it not that he encounters suddenly the pale, cold glance of a motionless person, whose half monastic face peers beyond the window casing at the sound of an unaccustomed step.
Such elements of sadness formed the physiognomy, as it were, of a dwelling house in Saumur which stands at the end of the steep street leading to the chateau in the upper part of the town... Continue reading book >>
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