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The Elixir of Life

Honoré de Balzac

Book Overview: 

Grand Duke Bartolommeo Belvidero is ninty years old and living in the princely palace at Ferrara, Italy, with the young and handsome Don Juan Belvidero, the son of his old age. Don Juan occupies the lively rooms of the palace and fills it with lovely women resplendent in gems and luxurious fabrics, fine foods, and wines. Bartolommeo has lived quietly and spartanly for many years while indulging Don Juan, and now it is only for Bartolommeo to die so Don Juan will have his fortune.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .w it seemed to be manifest in the apparition of an old white-haired servant, who tottered in, and looked sadly from under knitted brows at the revelers. He gave a withering glance at the garlands, the golden cups, the pyramids of fruit, the dazzling lights of the banquet, the flushed scared faces, the hues of the cushions pressed by the white arms of the women.

"My lord, your father is dying!" he said; and at those solemn words, uttered in hollow tones, a veil of crape seemed to be drawn over the wild mirth.

Don Juan rose to his feet with a gesture to his guests that might be rendered by, "Excuse me; this kind of thing does not happen every day."

Does it so seldom happen that a father's death surprises youth in the full-blown splendor of life, in the midst of the mad riot of an orgy? Death is as unexpected in his caprice as a courtesan in her disdain; but death is truer—Death has never forsaken any man.

Don Juan closed th. . . Read More

Community Reviews

3.5

4/5

Gran crítica , un relato muy entretenido

Historia corta magistralmente escrita. Revela, con un tono burlón, la profundidad de las intenciones y la debilidad del corazón humano, que la mayoría de las veces no es posible adivinar, al observar únicamente las acciones externas que una persona realiza.
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Short story masterfully wri

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