Père Goriot

By Honoré de Balzac, A. J. Krailsheimer (translator),

Book cover of Père Goriot

Book description

This is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. It is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for money. The detailed descriptions of both affluence and squalor in the…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Père Goriot as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Balzac wrote some 90 novels in a fury of creativity, dying at only 51. I haven’t read all 90 or even close to them, but of those I have, this book is by far my favorite. (I’m not alone. It was Henry James’ favorite, as well.) 

Set in a seamy boarding house in Paris around 1820, it’s the story of a father’s love for his two social-climbing daughters who let their father see them rarely and then only for his money. I’ve never read anything like this depiction of a father’s love, desperate and ever-hopeful—a man who lives in reduced…

From Richard's list on 19th century French novels.

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