Lost Souls

2020
Author:

Honoré de Balzac
Translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie

PODCAST EPISODE: TRANSLATOR RAYMOND MACKENZIE IN CONVERSATION WITH PRESS DIRECTOR DOUGLAS ARMATO ON THE NOT-SMALL FEAT OF TRANSLATING BALZAC.

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. 

"Between Lost Illusions and Lost Souls, in two hefty, handsome paperbacks—with scholarly trimmings to help, not impede a reader—we now have both of the novels (technically all seven novels in a trilogy followed by a tetralogy… published between 1837 and 1847 in not entirely chronological order… because Balzac?) tracing the fate of Lucien de Rubempre, in print as though they belong together, on your to-be-read lists and your shelves. They are a remarkable itinerary." LitHub

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 villain for the ages.

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).

Beautifully written book.

Book Post

Between Lost Illusions and Lost Souls, in two hefty, handsome paperbacks—with scholarly trimmings to help, not impede a reader—we now have both of the novels (technically all seven novels in a trilogy followed by a tetralogy… published between 1837 and 1847 in not entirely chronological order… because Balzac?) tracing the fate of Lucien de Rubempre, in print as though they belong together, on your to-be-read lists and your shelves. They are a remarkable itinerary.

LitHub