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The Girl with the Golden Eyes

Honoré de Balzac

Book Overview: 

"Give me a feast such as men give when they love," she said, "and whilst I sleep, slay me..."

Listeners who like to plunge straight into a story would do well to skip the lengthy preamble. Here, Balzac the virtuoso satirist depicts the levels of Parisian society as a version of the Inferno of Dante - but perhaps keeps the reader waiting too long for the first act of his operatic extravaganza.

Our beautiful, androgynous hero, Henri de Marsay, is one of the bastard offspring of a depraved Regency milord and himself practices the cynical arts of the libertine. His quarry is the exotic Paquita Valdes, she of the golden eyes.

But there is a mysterious third person in this liaison...

The shocking truth of their interrelationships marks this out at once as one of those French novels that Lady Bracknell would instantly ban from the house.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . proud leviathans which you admire when they cleave the waves! Is not Paris a sublime vessel laden with intelligence? Yes, her arms are one of those oracles which fatality sometimes allows. The City of Paris has her great mast, all of bronze, carved with victories, and for watchman—Napoleon. The barque may roll and pitch, but she cleaves the world, illuminates it through the hundred mouths of her tribunes, ploughs the seas of science, rides with full sail, cries from the height of her tops, with the voice of her scientists and artists: "Onward, advance! Follow me!" She carries a huge crew, which delights in adorning her with fresh streamers. Boys and urchins laughing in the rigging; ballast of heavy bourgeoisie; working-men and sailor-men touched with tar; in her cabins the lucky passengers; elegant midshipmen smoke their cigars leaning over the bulwarks; then, on the deck, her soldiers, innovators or ambitious, would accost every fresh shore, and shooting out their. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Girl with the Golden Eyes...such an unassuming title. If one considers Balzac to be one of the classical writers, than one would reach for this book thinking it would go along the lines of other classic novellas. Hmmm...the title sounds almost romantic.

The Girl with the Golden Eyes is an intere

El primer capítulo de esta novela es una proeza literaria. Balzac hace un retrato perfecto de la sociedad parisina, de la búsqueda del placer y la insensibilidad.
Una novela con tintes eróticos, de pasiones humanas, un final abrupto y estremecedor, donde no gobierna el sentimiento y es superado por l

I taught this novella in my writer's workshop and most of my students could not get through it, but that's a shame. While it is certainly is not perfect, it is one of the more interesting novellas I've read, and one of Balzac's many fascinating works. The structure itself is a marvel, as it begins w

Blah. First off, this begins with 30 pages which describe all of the ways Paris is terrible. As far as that goes, it has very little to do with the story. Henri is such a ridiculously one-dimensional and aggravating character. Actually, maybe not one dimensional, as he changes his character's way of

The One Where Balzac's Girlfriend Has Dumped Him And He's Been Reading The Thousand And One Nights And He Suddenly Realises How He Should Have Got Even With The Fucking Bitch.

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