Russell Kirk Center: Balzac: The Man for My Thirties?

A new annotated translation of the keystone of Balzac’s Comédie Humaine—a sweeping narrative of corrupted idealism in a cynical urban milieu

Lost Illusions is about, surprise surprise, lost illusions. Specifically, it is about the rise and fall (especially the rise and fall of the illusions) of one Lucien de Rubempré. Young, handsome, and literate, the world ought to be his oyster, right? But alas, he is also poor and from the provinces, so perhaps sardines are all he can hope for.

Throughout the course of the novel, there are many illusions that Lucien acquires, and then loses. I suspect many of us can relate to them these past few years. The lost illusions of politics. Of journalistic integrity. Of power. Pleasure. Even of art, of its supposed purity. In many ways, Balzac’s work reminds us that Solomon was indisputably right when he said there is nothing new under the sun. That the upheavals in our time, of the questioning of what is real, what is true, what even is factual, is not particularly new.

Full review at Kirk Center.

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