Pere Goriot, by Honore de Balzac, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics* *series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influencesbiographical, historical, and literaryto enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
A supreme observer and chronicler of nineteenth-century French society, Honoré de Balzac wrote a vast number of novels and short stories collectively known as The Human Comedy. These books were unsurpassed for their narrative drive and scope, their large casts of vibrant, diverse, and interesting characters, and their obsessive interest in and examination of virtually all spheres of life.
The greatest of these novels is Père Goriot, which opens in a dirty boarding-house where three of the novel's main characters live. Goriot is a father who sacrifices his wealth and health so that his two daughters can gain access to Parisian high society. He pays off their debts, succumbs to their lavish demands, and receives nothing but scorn in return. His fellow boarder is the mysterious Vautrin, one of Balzac's most remarkable creations. A criminal mastermind, Vautrin recognizes that the social contract is nothing but a fraud for those without money and power. Finally, there is Rastignac, who represents one of Balzac's favorite themesthe ambitious young provincial fighting for advancement in the competitive world of Paris. With Goriot and Vautrin acting as surrogate fathers, Rastignac begins his climb up the social ladderonly to discover that there is a spiritual cost to be paid for life's apparent prizes.
Peter Connor is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000). He has translated Bataille's The Tears of Eros (City Lights Press, 1989), as well as many works in the area of contemporary French philosophy, including The Inoperative Community, by Jean-Luc Nancy (University of Minnesota Press, 1991).