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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

1st Tale. L'Élixir de La Longue Vie
I liked this fantastic story, where a dilemma posed for don Juan.
Will he save his father's life, or will he keep this elixir that will allow him to live forever? I believe very sincerely that the temptation is great.
This fact is an excellent book that asks us quest


The Elixir of Life is classified as one of Balzac's Philosophical Studies, many of which have supernatural overtones. This one not only has supernatural aspects, but also aspects of horror. In fact, I almost screamed aloud at one point. The scene opens on a winter evening in a princely palace where


Gran crítica , un relato muy entretenido

(The Human Comedy 22/98)
Not a lot to this short story - based in a roundabout way on the tale of Don Juan and a Hoffman fairy tale it teases with Juan as an interesting character, who murders his father after discovering, partway through resurrecting him, that he really HAS discovered the elixir of

новая версия истории о доне Жуане, богохульная и нечестивая. обязательно перечитать

Εδώ έχουμε μια ιδιαίτερα ανορθόδοξη εκδοχή του Don Juan. Και η αλήθεια είναι πως υπάρχουν πολλές και διαφορετικές λογοτεχνικές απεικονίσεις του συγκεκριμένου ερωτύλου καθάρματος.

Ένας από τους πρώτους “δονζουανιστές” είναι ο θεατρικός συγγραφέας και μοναχός Tirso de Molina που έγραψε, στα 1630 περίπ

A most curious story: I think perhaps it fits into that category of Balzac's horror stories told for amusement, to scare the ladies. I have read a later one of these by Balzac; they are bizarre because they stretch credulity in the service of the moral Balzac wants to portray.
In this one, a dissolut

Este pequeno conto parece ser um esforço de provocação da Igreja. Embora o nome indicie um conto moral cristão, daqueles em que alguém, iludido com a promessa da vida eterna, buscando uma poção mágica, acaba por perceber o valor da vida, e (no fundo) que só Deus tem o poder da eternidade. A moral de

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