Written between 1837 and 1843, Lost Illusions reveals, perhaps better than any other of Balzac's ninety-two novels, the nature and scope of his genius. The story of Lucien Chardon, a young poet from Angouleme who tries desperately to make a name for himself in Paris, is a brilliantly realistic and boldly satirical portrait of provincial manners and aristocratic life. Handsome and ambitious but naive, Lucien is patronized by the beau monde as represented by Madame de Bargeton and her cousin, the formidable Marquise d'Espard, only to be duped by them. Denied the social rank he thought would be his, Lucien discards his poetic aspirations and turns to hack journalism; his descent into Parisian low life ultimately leads to his own death.
EDITOR'S CHOICE: Reputation: What It Is and Why It Matters
Posted December 15, 2017, 1:44 PMGloria Origgi has written a book on reputation that mixes the latest social science with the most timeless lessons of philosophy and literature to explore how our inner lives interact with and affect our social lives. Read more
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