Depicting the fatal clash between material desires and the liberating power of human passions, Honoré de Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet is translated with an introduction by M.A. Crawford in Penguin Classics.
In a gloomy house in provincial Saumur, the miser Grandet lives with his wife and daughter, Eugénie, whose lives are stifled and overshadowed by his obsession with gold. Guarding his piles of glittering treasures and his only child equally closely, he will let no one near them. But when the arrival of her handsome cousin, Charles, awakens Eugénie’s own desires, her passion brings her into a violent collision with her father that results in tragedy for all. Eugénie Grandet is one of the earliest and finest works in Balzac’s Comédie humaine cycle, which portrays a society consumed by the struggle to amass wealth and achieve power. Here Grandet embodies both the passionate pursuit of money, and the human cost of avarice.
M. A. Crawford’s lucid translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing the irony and psychological insight of Balzac’s characterization, the role of fate in the novel, its setting and historical background.