Le Père Goriot (Old Goriot or Father Goriot) is an 1835 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac, included in the Scènes de la vie privée section of his novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac.
Originally published in serial form during the winter of 1834/35, Le Père Goriot is widely considered Balzac's most important novel. It marks the first serious use by the author of characters who had appeared in other books, a technique that distinguishes Balzac's fiction. The novel is also noted as an example of his realist style, using minute details to create character and subtext.
The novel takes place during the Bourbon Restoration, which brought profound changes to French society; the struggle by individuals to secure a higher social status is a major theme in the book. The city of Paris also impresses itself on the characters – especially young Rastignac, who grew up in the provinces of southern France. Balzac analyzes, through Goriot and others, the nature of family and marriage, providing a pessimistic view of these institutions.
A favorite of Balzac's, the book quickly won widespread popularity and has often been adapted for film and the stage. It gave rise to the French expression "Rastignac", a social climber willing to use any means to better his situation. Another well known line of this book by Balzac is when Vautrin tells Eugene, "In that case I will make you an offer that no one would decline." This has been reworked by Mario Puzo in the novel The Godfather (1969) and its film adaptation (1972); "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse". It was ranked as the second most significant cinematic quote in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes (2005) by the American Film Institute.
Unabridged version - 103,598 words, 290 pages in the printed edition.
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.
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