Lost Souls

2020
Author:

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie

The first new translation of Balzac’s 1847 novel Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes in half a century, fully annotated and with an extensive introduction

In Balzac’s brilliant evocation of nineteenth-century Paris, we enter a world of glittering wealth and grinding poverty, teeming with strivers, poseurs, and pleasure seekers along with those who struggle merely to survive.

In Lost Souls, Honoré de Balzac’s brilliant evocation of nineteenth-century Paris, we enter a world of glittering wealth and grinding poverty, teeming with strivers, poseurs, and pleasure seekers along with those who struggle merely to survive. Between the heights of Parisian society and the criminal world lurking underneath, fate is about to catch up with Lucien de Rubempré, last seen in Lost Illusions, as his literary aspirations, his love for the courtesan Esther van Gobseck, and his scheme to marry the wealthy Clotilde become entangled in the cunning and ultimately disastrous ambitions of the Abbé Herrera, a

An extraordinary volume in Balzac’s vast Human Comedy (in which he endeavored to capture all of society), Lost Souls appears here in its first new English translation in half a century. Keenly attuned to the acerbic charm and subtleties of Balzac’s prose, this edition also includes an introduction presenting thorough biographical, literary, and historical context, as well as extensive notes throughout the text—an invaluable resource for today’s readers as they navigate Balzac’s copious allusions to classical and contemporaneous politics and literature.

Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) worked as a clerk, printer, and publisher before devoting himself entirely to writing fiction. A leading figure in the development of realism in European literature, he wrote more than one hundred volumes of stories, novellas, and novels, including Père Goriot, Le Peau de chagrin, and Lost Illusions (Minnesota, 2020), the prequel to Lost Souls.



Raymond N. MacKenzie is professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. His previous translations include Barbey d’Aurevilly’s Diaboliques, Stendhal’s Italian Chronicles, Lamartine’s Graziella, and Balzac’s Lost Illusions (all from Minnesota).

Contents



Translator’s Introduction



Raymond N. MacKenzie



Lost Souls



Part I: How Women Love



A View of the Opera Ball



Other Masks



La Torpille



A Parisian Landscape



An Interior Familiar to Some but Unknown to Others



A Rat’s Confessions



Anatomy of the Whore



The Rat Becomes a Magdalene



A Portrait Titian Would Have Liked to Paint



Nostalgia



A Number of Reflections



A Friend



In Which We Learn That There Is No Priest in the Abbé Herrera



Two Extraordinary Watchdogs



A Tedious Chapter, Explaining Four Years of Happiness



How a Lynx Met a Rat, and What Ensued



Cashbox in Despair



The Abyss Beneath Esther’s Happiness



With the Grandlieus



The Daughter of a Fine House



The House of a Fine Daughter



Monsieur de Nucingen at Work



Contenson



Where Passion Leads



Father des Canquoëlles



The Mysteries of the Police



A Spy at Home



Three Men Begin to Circle Each Other



Nucingen, Closing in on His Bliss, Readies Himself



Disappointments



The Abbé Wins the First Round



False Abbé, False Notes, False Debts, False Love



Part II: What Love Costs an Old Man



A Hundred Thousand Francs Invested in Asia



A First Night



Some Gleams of Light



Profits and Losses



Necessary Explanations



Two Great Loves: Conflict



Peace Treaty Between Asia and the Nucingen Firm



An Abdication



Esther Resurfaces in Paris



A Woman on Foot



Peyrade the Nabob



A Duel in a Cab



Corentin Wins Round Two



The Music Old Men Sometimes Hear at the Italiens



How Much One Can Suffer in a Doorway



The Scene Is Played out in the Boxes



When Pleasures Turn Disagreeable



The Serpents Intertwine



At the Belle-Ètoille



One of the Corentin’s Thousand Traps



Mene, Tekel, Upharsen



The Terrible Oath of Corentin



The Trap Snares a Rat



A Farewell



The Lamentations of Nucingen



Corentin’s Revenge Gets Underway



Part III: Where Evil Pathways Lead



The Salad Basket



The Two Patients



Criminal Law Made Plain for Ordinary People



The Machiavelli of the Penal Colony



A Victory Over Solitary Confinement



Historical, Archaeological, Biographical, Anecdotal, and Physiological History of the Palais de Justice



The Same Subject, Continued



How All This Is Put to Use



The Committal Process



How the Two Prisoners React to Their Troubles



Explaining the Functions of an Examining Magistrate



The Examining Magistrate in a Difficult Situation



The Way a Bedroom Can Sometimes Be a Council Chamber



Concerning the Police and Their Flies



A Product of the Palais



Influence Applied



A Trap for a Convict



Jacques Collin, in Solidarity, Gets Things Moving



Asia’s Maneuvers



A View of the Pas-Perdus



Massol Dreams of Marriage



A Use for Massol, and One for the Spaniel



Asia on Fine Terms with the Duchesse



A Fine Sorrow



A Type of Parisian Woman



Asia, Peasant from the Danube



Observations



The Convict Proves He Is a Man of Note



An Admirable Invention by Jacques Collin



Cunning Meets Cunning, and Well Met Too



The Sign Is Erased



Thrusts and Parries



Asia’s Resumè



Re-acquainting Old Acquaintances



The Prisoner’s Audacity



An Incident



Enough



In Which We See That the Law Is and Must Be Heartless



The Magistrate Back on Top



The Melancholy Peculiar to Examining Magistrates



The Dangers an Innocent Man Faces at the Palais



In Which Anyone Who Has Committed Any Crime Will Tremble at the Idea of Appearing Before Any Kind of Court



Two Moralities



The Hammer Blow



The Magistrate’s Torture



The Prosecutor-General



Is It Too Late?



All That Women Do in Paris



All That Women Can Do in Paris



A Funny Story



Dandy and Poet Are Re-united



Difficulties in Committing Suicide in Prison



A Hallucination



A Drama in the Life of a Woman in Fashion



How It All Ended



Part IV: Vautrin’s Last Incarnation



The Two Robes



Amèlie Makes Plans



Concerning Magnetism



The Man in Solitary



Farewells



In the Prison Yard



Philosophic, Linguistic, and Literary Essay on Slang, Whores, and Thieves



The Grand Fanandels



The Wild Boar Appears



His Majesty the Boss



Ruse Against Ruse



The Condemned Man’s Cell



A Remarkable Criminal Trial



Charlot



The Confession



In Which Mademoiselle Collin Enters the Scene



A Seduction



Last Incarnation



Madame Camusot’s First Visit



Madame Camusot’s Second Visit



An Important Person Destined to Oblivion



The Obscure and Powerful Corentin



The Pains of a Prosecutor-General



What to Do?



Enter Stage Right



Crime and Justice Have a Tête-à-tête



The Innocence of Théodore



The File of the Great Ladies



Jacques Collin’s Debut in Comedy



The Tale of La Rousse



How Paccard and Prudence Will Get Set Up



The Prey Becomes the Predator



The English Gentlemen Get the First Shot



An Old Acquaintance



One Perspective



Disappointment



In Which Jacques Collin Abdicates as Boss



What Followed the Abdication



The Burial



In Which Deathcatcher Makes a Deal with the Stork



The Doctor



Conclusion



Translator’s Notes