Honore de Balzac
Around 700 pages
After abandoning this book for a couple weeks, I picked it up and couldn't put it down again. This is definitely one of the more inspirational books on The List. Now, some of you who have read this novel might be a bit confused by that last sentence, but I will get to that later.
This is the story of Lucien Chardon, a poor poet who goes to Paris with his lover to become a successful writer. However, he is corrupted by journalists and critics, who, according to Balzac, are all terrible people (ouch; does this blog count?).
Anyway, Lucien does have one group of friends that are actually good people. People who believe that you should live in poverty instead of writing for newspapers, in order to be true to your heart. People who are very self righteous. People who believe that women shouldn't be actresses since they would get jealous if the woman was pretending to be in love with someone else. People who…wait, we are supposed to like these people?
This was a very entertaining read; watching Lucien descent into corruption which seems to culminate in human slavery (?) was fascinating; it is slow at first, but gradually gains momentum until he completely loses himself in a particularly memorable scene when he is joyous at the attention his book receives whilst his sister cries next to him about the ruin he has brought upon his family.
Like I said, I found this book to be inspirational. I am not a published writer, but I have always been interested in that field (hence the four blogs). Reading about Lucien's journey was especially interesting to me. For instance, when Lucien reads his poems to a publisher, nervously watching every slight movement of the publisher, trying to gauge whether he likes it or not is relatable to anyone who has written something before and read it before an audience. So this is definitely a book for writers and I was inspired to give both poetry and novel writing another chance.
We also, as always with Balzac, get some great social commentary on the politics and social norms of the time. My only complaint is that the ending is a bit long; I found the downfall of the characters Eve and David to not be nearly as interesting as the parts concerning Lucien. Other than that a great book and Balzac is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
I can't really find any interesting facts on this novel so I will use this space to recommend this novel to anyone that likes a good makeover story; Balzac spends a good deal of time talking about the Parisian transformation of Lucien and Louise.
UP NEXT: The Pit and The Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe. Happy October!