The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Urban Literary Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeremy Tambling

Balzac: Le Père Goriot (Father Goriot)

  • Jeremy TamblingEmail author
Living reference work entry


Balzac; Brecht; Capitalism; Colonialism; Dickens; July Revolution; Jungle of Cities; Melodrama; Paris; Thackeray

Of the novels of Balzac (97 by some counts, plus short stories) making up the Comédie humaine [Human Comedy], Père Goriot is one of the most significant in being inseparable from rendering Paris, so much so that he questions in the opening page of the book whether anyone outside Paris will be able to understand it. “Paris” is here defined as what lies between “les buttes de Montmartre et les hauteurs de Montrouge” – that is, the rising ground of Montmartre, on the northern perimeter of the old city, and the heights of Montrouge, on the southern perimeter, near the Porte d’Orleans. It is, of course, Paris pre-Haussmann. Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) wrote about Paris in 1819 (though there are references to what happened in 1822), after the defeat of Waterloo and the restoration of the conservative Bourbon monarchy of Louis XVIII, but he has in mind the Paris...

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK