Author(s): Honore de Balzac
'So many mysteries in one boarding house!' Monsieur Goriot is one of a disparate group of lodgers at Mademe Vauquer's dingy Parisian boarding house. At first his wealth inspires respect, but as his circumstances are mysteriously reduced he becomes shunned by those around him, and soon his only remaining visitors are his two beautifully dressed daughters. Goriot's fate is intertwined with two other fellow boarders: the young social climber Eugene Rastignac, who sees a way to gain the acceptance and wealth he craves, and the enigmatic figure of Vautrin, who is hiding darker secrets than anyone. Weaving a compelling and panoramic story of love, money, self-sacrifice, corruption, greed and ambition, "Old Man Goriot" is Balzac's acknowledged masterpiece. A key novel in his "Comedie Humaine" series, it is a vividly realized portrait of bourgeois Parisian society in the years following the French Revolution.
HONORE DE BALZAC was born in 1799 in Tours, France. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas pere and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years. OLIVIA MCCANNON is a literary translator and writer based in London and Paris. Her writing has appeared on BBC Radios 3 and 4, and her first collection of poetry is forthcoming from Carcanet (Oxford Poets). GRAHAM ROBB's books include Balzac (1994) and Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century (2003). The Discovery of France (2007), based in part on fourteen thousand miles' cycling in France, won both the Duff Cooper Prize and the 2008 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize.