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Etudes de moeurs. 3e livre. Scènes de la vie parisienne. T. 2. Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau

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Ce livre est une oeuvre du domaine public éditée au format numérique par Norph-Nop. L’achat de l’édition Kindle inclut le téléchargement via un réseau sans fil sur votre liseuse et vos applications de lecture Kindle

30 review for Etudes de moeurs. 3e livre. Scènes de la vie parisienne. T. 2. Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Definitely one of the best Balzac stories I've read! It's another tale of ambition and greed brought low, but with a difference - Balzac's sinner makes good in the end. Cesar Birotteau is a successful middle-class merchant bedazzled by prospects of a good marriage for his only daughter Cesarine and the possibility of making a great deal of money by investing in a get-rich quick scheme. His wife Constance is appalled but he gets involved in the dodgy investment anyway. It is of course orches Definitely one of the best Balzac stories I've read! It's another tale of ambition and greed brought low, but with a difference - Balzac's sinner makes good in the end. Cesar Birotteau is a successful middle-class merchant bedazzled by prospects of a good marriage for his only daughter Cesarine and the possibility of making a great deal of money by investing in a get-rich quick scheme. His wife Constance is appalled but he gets involved in the dodgy investment anyway. It is of course orchestrated by unscrupulous men: principally Ferdinand du Tillet, once a foundling now a banker; Roguin, a rogue in debt himself, but the Firm of Nucingen comes to play a part that shows once again Balzac's contempt for Parisian bankers. There's a nice young man called Anselme Popinot, who has a club foot and no money. He's in love with Cesarine and she with him, but everything seems against it. The story having the title that it does means that one reads the first half with a sense of impending doom and it's no surprise when things go horribly wrong. But Balzac is such a master of characterisation in this story that the interest lies in how Cesar copes, how he reconciles with his wife when he's too afraid to admit what's happened, and how hard he tries to avoid the inevitable. There's more about the intricacies of bankruptcy than you'd ever want to know, but apart from that the story held my interest to the end and I think that this one is my favourite story after Pere Goriot.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vittorio Ducoli

    Un’intera epoca, giunta sino a noi, in un piccolo personaggio “[Balzac] ci offre nella Comédie humaine una prodigiosa storia realistica della "società" francese, descrivendo in guisa di cronaca, quasi anno per anno, dal 1816 al 1848, la progressiva irruzione della nascente borghesia nella società nobiliare che, dopo il 1815, si era ricostituita […]. E intorno a questo quadro centrale raggruppa una storia completa della società francese, dalla quale, persino nei dettagli economici (per esempio il riordinamento dei behumaine/>“[Balzac] Un’intera epoca, giunta sino a noi, in un piccolo personaggio “[Balzac] ci offre nella Comédie humaine una prodigiosa storia realistica della "società" francese, descrivendo in guisa di cronaca, quasi anno per anno, dal 1816 al 1848, la progressiva irruzione della nascente borghesia nella società nobiliare che, dopo il 1815, si era ricostituita […]. E intorno a questo quadro centrale raggruppa una storia completa della società francese, dalla quale, persino nei dettagli economici (per esempio il riordinamento dei beni mobili e immobili dopo la rivoluzione), ho imparato di più che da tutti gli storici dichiarati, gli economisti e gli studiosi di statistica di quel periodo messi insieme”. Questo celebre passo, tratto da una lettera di Friedrich Engles a Margaret Harkness, sintetizza in modo esplicito la straordinaria importanza che i romanzi, le novelle e i saggi di Honoré de Balzac in cui si articola lo stupefacente edificio della Comédie assumono nella storia della letteratura europea e mondiale. Questo edificio, simile ad un palazzo della grande nobiltà, è composto da decine di stanze, alcune ampie ed ariose, destinate ad essere la sede privilegiata della vita dei protagonisti, altre strette ed anguste, cui si accede di rado perché luoghi in cui si trovano oggetti nascosti o semplicemente non quotidianamente necessari, altre ancora che fungono da collegamento tra le prime e le seconde; vi sono poi le stanze di servizio, che a prima vista non sembrano così preziose come quelle di rappresentanza ma senza le quali l’intero edificio non potrebbe funzionare. César Birotteau rappresenta a mio avviso una di queste stanze, non essendo magari una delle più luminose, ma senza la quale tutta la vita del palazzo sarebbe in qualche modo diversa. Fuor di metafora, César Birotteau, pur non essendo sicuramente uno dei più noti e celebrati romanzi dell’autore francese, è in qualche maniera un pilastro portante dell’intera opera balzachiana: non a caso lo stesso Balzac lo riteneva uno dei suoi capolavori, e la sua redazione, se infine fu portata a termine in poche settimane, come spesso accadde alle sue opere, anche a causa di pressanti impegni contrattuali, fu da Balzac rimuginata per lunghi anni. Due sono gli aspetti che a mio avviso rendono capitale questo romanzo. Da un lato l’oggetto stesso del racconto, che narra l’ascesa e caduta di un self-made-man nella Parigi degli anni immediatamente successivi alla caduta di Napoleone, periodo centrale nella storia francese, quello della Restaurazione durante la quale, nonostante l’aristocrazia e i Borboni abbiano riacquistato il potere, la borghesia continua la sua inarrestabile crescita, che la porterà alla rivoluzione del 1830. L’altro aspetto è la sua precisione e puntigliosità nel descrivere i meccanismi economici e finanziari attraverso cui si esercita il potere borghese, la loro spietatezza e il loro assurgere a regole assolute delle relazioni sociali. Anche in altri romanzi della Comédie humaine si trovano lunghe e precise descrizioni dei meccanismi attraverso cui il denaro ed il profitto esercitano il loro potere, ma è indubbio che in César Birotteau esse assumono un ruolo talmente centrale da poter essere considerato inedito. Se ad alcuni critici le lunghe pagine che Balzac dedica a queste descrizioni sono sembrate un punto di debolezza del romanzo, a mio avviso ne costituiscono invece uno dei grandi elementi di forza, perché senza queste pagine non sarebbe possibile attribuire un valore universale alla vicenda del povero Birotteau, e il realismo di Balzac perderebbe uno dei pilastri sul quale è basato. E che Balzac intendesse rendere, attraverso il suo protagonista, lo spirito vorace di un’epoca, lo dice apertamente egli stesso, alla fine dei due capitoli introduttivi del romanzo, con frasi che assumono quasi il tono di invocazione: ”Possa questa storia essere il poema delle vicissitudini borghesi, alle quali nessuna voce ha mai pensato, tanto sembrano prive di grandezza. Esse sono invece altrettanto immense: non si tratta qui di un sol uomo, ma di una moltitudine di dolori”. Chi è dunque César Birotteau, quali sono le moltitudini di dolori che questo piccolo ma complesso personaggio rappresenta attraverso la sua storia? Già il suo nome è un piccolo capolavoro, con quell’aulico e altisonante (soprattutto per un francese) César che si contrappone ad un cognome più che popolaresco, che rimanda per assonanza a qualcosa di stupido, di estremamente poco elevato. Due infatti sono le facce fondamentali della sua personalità, peraltro a mio avviso strettamente correlate, come cercherò di illustrare: la rettitudine e l’ottusità. All’inizio del romanzo Birotteau è un fabbricante e commerciante di profumi e prodotti di bellezza, benestante ed apprezzato per la sua onestà, che si è fatto da sé: è vicesindaco di una circoscrizione parigina dopo essere stato per qualche tempo giudice del tribunale del commercio, carica elettiva che ha esercitato con saggezza e moderazione. Nel lungo capitolo che descrive le sue vicende passate il lettore viene a sapere che dopo essere giunto nel 1793, quattordicenne e orfano, dalla Touraine a Parigi con un Luigi in tasca, venne assunto come commesso nell’avviato negozio di profumi di Messieur Ragon, guadagnandosi col tempo la fiducia del padrone. Il suo istinto per il risparmio e qualche azzeccato investimento gli consentono di acquistare la fabbrica quando, nel 1800, Ragon si ritira. Nello stesso anno sposa Constance Pillerault, bella e giovane commessa in un negozio parigino, da cui avrà una figlia. La crescita dei suoi affari è dovuta a due prodotti di bellezza per la cui formulazione ha fatto ricorso ad un chimico: la Crema delle Sultane e l’Acqua carminativa, che hanno avuto successo anche grazie all’innovativo uso di inserzioni pubblicitarie sui giornali. Il fatto che Birotteau sia un profumiere non è casuale, perché il suo successo economico è emblematicamente legato al sorgere di nuovi bisogni, come quello della cura del corpo, indotti verso fasce crescenti della popolazione, in particolare la piccola borghesia, dallo sviluppo economico. Anche l’uso della pubblicità come mezzo di promozione, legato al proliferare di giornali e riviste e , è analizzato in dettaglio da Balzac, che riporta per intero il prospetto scritto e diffuso da Birotteau per i suoi due prodotti, non mancando di sottolinearne la ridicola fraseologia. Se l’autore descrive i successi di Birotteau come frutto anche di alcune sue intuizioni, non rinuncia tuttavia a sottolineare come la vera mente della ditta sia la moglie, che assomma le virtù di una vera piccolo-borghese, e che nonostante i suoi indubbi limiti riesce ad indirizzare al meglio quelli, molto più pesanti, del marito. Le considerazioni finali di Balzac rispetto alla personalità di Birotteau sono taglienti ed ambivalenti: ”Così, un uomo pusillanime, senza istruzione, senza idee, senza conoscenze, senza carattere, e che non sarebbe dovuto riuscire sulla piazza più scivolosa del mondo, riuscì, grazie alla sua condotta, al senso della giustizia, alla bontà di un’anima veramente cristiana, per amore dell’unica donna che avesse mai posseduto, a passare per un uomo particolare, coraggioso e pieno di fermezza”. Nel novembre 1818, quando si apre il romanzo, Birotteau sta per ricevere la Legion d’Onore per meriti commerciali e politici: di fede monarchica perché lo era il suo padrone e perché ritiene che solo l’ordine possa favorire gli affari, si vanta di essere stato ferito da Napoleone in persona sulla scalinata della chiesa di Saint-Roche durante i moti monarchici del 1795. Questo riconoscimento alimenta i suoi desideri di scalata sociale, di entrare a far parte della grande borghesia: si lancia quindi ingenuamente, nonostante la contrarietà della moglie, in una speculazione immobiliare, impegnandovi tutto il suo modesto capitale e firmando cambiali per una grossa cifra; amplia e ristruttura lussuosamente il suo appartamento e organizza un gran ballo che dovrebbe consacrarlo agli occhi della buona società, al quale partecipano rappresentanti dell’alta borghesia e qualche aristocratico. Subito dopo il suo trionfo c’è il crollo, secondo una legge naturale cara a Balzac. Il notaio cui aveva affidato i soldi per la speculazione sicura scappa con la cassa: le spese folli per l’appartamento e il ballo non possono essere saldate, e le cambiali giungono inesorabilmente a scadenza. Non uno dei numerosi banchieri e usurai cui si rivolge gli accorda credito e così Birotteau, che considera il fallimento un’onta morale, è costretto a fallire. Tutti i suoi beni vengono pignorati ed egli è costretto ad un modesto impiego, come la moglie. Unico obiettivo della sua vita sarà da allora saldare i debiti residui nei confronti dei creditori e ottenere la riabilitazione. Birotteau è quindi vittima della propria ambizione ma, e qui sta a mio avviso il colpo di genio di Balzac, la sua è l’ambizione del giusto, di colui che ritiene di poter basare la propria scalata sulla reputazione e sulla rettitudine morale. La sua precipua ottusità sta proprio qui: nell’incapacità di comprendere che il grande salto è possibile solo a chi mette da parte ogni principio morale, adattandosi alle spietate regole su cui si basa l’arricchimento. Nel primo, splendido capitolo del romanzo, Birotteau confida alla moglie i suoi progetti, e risponde alle sue forti obiezioni facendo leva sulla moralità della speculazione in cui si è imbarcato: i suoi soci, dice, sono persone conosciute, di cui ci si può fidare ciecamente, e l’acquisto di terreni che di lì a pochi anni varranno molto di più perché edificabili è operazione analoga all’acquisto di titoli pubblici sui quali lucrare nel tempo. Non può neppure sospettare il rischio a cui va incontro, e firma cambiali convinto che in ogni caso egli stesso, la sua storia personale garantiscano la loro solvibilità. Vale la pena soffermarsi brevemente su questo primo capitolo, perché a mio avviso costituisce un esempio magnifico della potenza e della modernità di scrittura di Balzac. L’incipit è di quelli da ricordare, per cui lo riporto integralmente: ”Nelle notti d’inverno, in rue Saint-Honoré il rumore s’interrompe per un solo istante: gli ortolani, diretti alle Halles, proseguono il via vai delle carrozze che sono rientrate dal teatro o dal ballo. Nel mezzo di quella pausa, che nella gran sinfonia del frastuono parigino si colloca verso l’una di notte, la moglie di M. César Birotteau, profumiere residente nei pressi di place Vendôme, fu svegliata di colpo da un sogno spaventoso”. Splendida l’immagine dei due mondi, quello del divertimento e quello del lavoro, che si sfiorano senza toccarsi nella notte; in qualche modo in anticipo sui tempi l’importanza data al sogno premonitore, e memorabile il successivo, incalzante monologo di Madame Birotteau che Paola Dècina Lombardi, nella sua introduzione, accosta arditamente al monologo interiore di Molly Bloom. Tornando agli aspetti generali e sostanziali della vicenda, si può affermare a mio avviso che César Birotteau è ottuso non nonostante, ma perché è retto ed onesto, e questo lo rende del tutto inadeguato a rapportarsi con il mondo di cui intende far parte. Egli vede lo scintillio di quel mondo e ritiene che la sua luminosità sia basata sulle sue stesse virtù, e che aver ricevuto per quelle virtù la Legione d’Onore costituisca il passaporto per entrarvi: non capisce che invece quel mondo riluce grazie alla sua crudeltà e spietatezza, che gli unici valori che riconosce sono quelli dell’accumulazione e del profitto ad ogni costo e nasconde accuratamente il fango e il sudiciume morale su cui è basato. La massima manifestazione di questa crudeltà è individuata da Balzac – anche per esperienza personale – nel mondo della finanza e delle banche. Ai primi segnali di dissesto, un fiducioso Birotteau si rivolge al grande banchiere Keller, che lo dirotta dai Nucingen, altri grandi banchieri che ritorneranno spesso nella Comédie, per poi finire nelle mani di du Tillet, il suo disonesto ex commesso divenuto spregiudicato finanziere, che lo odia per averlo licenziato: i colloqui che stordiscono Birotteau, le false aperture di credito, le melliflue cortesie di chi ha già deciso che guadagnerà più dal suo fallimento che dal suo salvataggio sono delle vere chicche da leggere con attenzione, perché colme di quei particolari tecnici che svelano l’arcano della finanza. Quando, poco più tardi, gli unici veri amici di Birotteau, Pillerault e il giovane Anselme Popinot, usciranno dalla casa del sordido usuraio Gigonnet, dopo un ultimo inutile tentativo di evitare il fallimento, il primo sentenzierà: ”Ricordati sempre questa breve seduta, Anselme! Hai appena visto la Banca senza la maschera delle sue belle apparenze”. Proprio Pillerault e Popinot rappresentano di fatto i due soli personaggi positivi del romanzo. Il primo, zio della moglie di Birotteau, è un ex operaio, poi commerciante di ferramenta, di idee di sinistra, che si è ritirato con una buona rendita, e rappresenta quindi il piccolo-borghese che non ha cercato la scalata sociale ma ha mantenuto nel tempo una sua precisa coerenza morale e politica ma anche economica. Il secondo, che ritroveremo in successivi capitoli della Comédie, si affaccia alla vita seguendo le orme di Birotteau, aprendo grazie al suo aiuto una fabbrica di profumi e utilizzando sistematicamente i nuovi strumenti pubblicitari per far conoscere i suoi prodotti. Alla fine del romanzo, che per la verità a mio avviso è forse la parte meno riuscita rasentando un lirismo di tono melodrammatico, sposerà l’amata Césarine, la figlia di Birotteau. Vuole forse il reazionario Balzac dirci, attraverso questi due personaggi e, in negativo attraverso Birotteau, che è necessario stare al proprio posto nella vita e nella scala sociale? Concordando con Paola Dècina Lombardi non lo credo: credo anzi che il messaggio forte e rivoluzionario che viene da questo romanzo, e dall’intera opera di Balzac, sia la piena coscienza e denuncia anche tecnica del darwinismo sociale che innerva la società del denaro e del profitto, la sua necessaria assoluta immoralità: ”Il denaro non guarda in faccia nessuno, il denaro non ha orecchie. Il denaro non ha cuore” dice orgogliosamente Molineaux, il meschino padrone di casa di Birotteau. Romanzo complesso nella apparente semplicità delle sue vicende, César Birotteau esalta la capacità di Balzac di analizzare, tramite i suoi personaggi e le loro vicende, un’intera epoca storica. I meccanismi concreti dell’accumulazione, il ruolo della finanza nell’economia, l’importanza della pubblicità come strumento del profitto e del giornalismo per orientare l’opinione pubblica, i primi vagiti della società dei consumi necessaria alla borghesia per aumentare i profitti, tutto questo cade sotto la grande lente dell’autore per consegnarci uno dei grandi romanzi di cui è composta la sua immensa opera. Leggendolo con l’attenzione che merita, oltre a provare un grande piacere capiremo cose che ci possono essere molto utili per comprendere anche la realtà odierna, perché non vi è nulla di nuovo sotto il cielo.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    During: I'm on page 62 of 320 of Cesar Birotteau: Presently besieged with a massive head cold; found the sinuous digressions of Marias too much for such a debility. My hero Balzac hasn't let me down. I read for the better part of a hour at the pharmacy and the clerk asked about the novel as I was paying: oblivious is an apt description. I'm sensing there need to be more adaptations from B at the multiplex, perhaps ones with CGI wolves. — In Conclusion: It is a te During: I'm on page 62 of 320 of Cesar Birotteau: Presently besieged with a massive head cold; found the sinuous digressions of Marias too much for such a debility. My hero Balzac hasn't let me down. I read for the better part of a hour at the pharmacy and the clerk asked about the novel as I was paying: oblivious is an apt description. I'm sensing there need to be more adaptations from B at the multiplex, perhaps ones with CGI wolves. — In Conclusion: It is a testament to Balzac's "minor" novel of speculation and jurisprudence, that while my side struggled and was ultimately defeated in the FA Cup today, I kept wavering in my attentions to return to the novel's final pages. There is a certain narrow or constricted view of Birotteau, but i believe that is the point. Excuse my brush into authorial intent, but I found Balzac's creation a proto-Babbit: a muddled middlebrow with pitch, a smile and a distorted sense of reality.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kuszma

    Ha Balzac valamit utál, akkor az a pénzvilág krémje, a bankárok és az uzsorások, úgyhogy ha van a devizahiteleseknek védőszentje, akkor az nyilván ő. Ennek egy cseppet sem mond ellent, hogy közben Balzac egészen nyilvánvalóan imádja a pénzt magát, hiszen aki imádja a pénzt, az szükségszerűen vagy bankár (esetleg uzsorás), vagy utálja őket. Ez bizonyára azzal függ össze, hogy ugyanazt az ökológiai fülkét próbálják meg betölteni. A César Birotteau…-ban is az első 140 oldal tulajdonképpen nem más, Ha Balzac valamit utál, akkor az a pénzvilág krémje, a bankárok és az uzsorások, úgyhogy ha van a devizahiteleseknek védőszentje, akkor az nyilván ő. Ennek egy cseppet sem mond ellent, hogy közben Balzac egészen nyilvánvalóan imádja a pénzt magát, hiszen aki imádja a pénzt, az szükségszerűen vagy bankár (esetleg uzsorás), vagy utálja őket. Ez bizonyára azzal függ össze, hogy ugyanazt az ökológiai fülkét próbálják meg betölteni. A César Birotteau…-ban is az első 140 oldal tulajdonképpen nem más, mint egy báli előkészület részletekbe menő leírása, ami kiváló alkalmat nyújt írónknak ahhoz, hogy csak úgy röpködjenek a költségszámítások: itt egy 1000 tallér, ott 20.000 frank… A történet további része pedig ugyancsak tobzódik a számnevekben, csődeljárás, váltóleszámítolás és satöbbi ürügyén. Ha valakinek van hozzá affinitása, nagyon korrekt közgazdasági tanulmányt rittyenthetne mindebből a XIX. századi francia nagypolgári élet költségvonzatait illetően. A másik dolog pedig, amiért Balzac odavan, az az intrika. Ez a képzeletbeli Párizs az egy főre eső jockeyewingok tekintetében egyértelműen világbajnok – itt négy emberből három tutira tönkre akar tenni valakit (vagy egymást, vagy a szerencsétlen negyediket), és egyáltalán nem ódzkodnak attól, hogy erről az olvasó szeme láttára hosszadalmasan áradozzanak. Kicsit olyan ez, mint amikor a színdarabokban kibeszélnek a közönségnek, csak hogy az értse, mi is történik a szereplők fejében. Nem nagyon reális ez persze, de a balzaci realizmus nem a valóság hű ábrázolásáról szól, inkább a modellezéséről. Az író (ahogy a realisták általában) nem pontosságra törekszik, mint inkább valami magasabb szintű igazság megalkotására – ennek érdekében kicsit leegyszerűsítő és karikaturisztikus, nem annyira létező személyt, mint típust akar alkotni. Ilyen típus César Birotteau, a könyv gerincét alkotó regény főhőse is: a becsületes kereskedő mintapéldánya, akit a pénzvilág hiénái rávesznek, hogy törekedjen magasabbra. A feleség persze tudja előre, hogy a lyuk, ahová férje be akar mászni, nem annyira aranybánya, mint inkább latrina – de a férfi nem hallgat rá. És persze jön is a csőd, csőstül. Balzac, tőle némiképp idegen módon, a padlóra került Césart nem tapossa meg páros lábbal, inkább a lelki megnemesedés nagy eposzát kerekíti ki az egészből: hogy mire nem képes az ember, ha a szíve a helyén, és vele vannak, akiket szeret. Nem a legsikerültebb Balzac-mű, de az életműben (pont atipikussága miatt) érdekes helyet foglal el. A kötet további két novellája viszont már Balzac legjobb oldalát mutatja. A Vörös Vendégfogadó-ban egy kegyetlen gyilkosság története bontakozik ki egy vacsorai beszélgetés alatt, hogy aztán végül tüneményesen cinikus végkifejletbe torkolljon. Az elhagyott asszony-ban pedig a vidéki élet éles szemű bírálatából kiindulva ismerjük meg egy pusztító szerelem krónikáját – a végkifejlet itt is üdítően sajátos. Összességében ez a kötet jól illusztrálja a balzaci kevercset, ami jókora adag fanyar realista elemzőkészségből, és majd ugyanennyi romantikus szenvedélyességből áll össze. Aki szeret cselszövevényekről olvasni, és tudja tolerálni a piszkos anyagiak gyakori emlegetését, sok értékes dolgot felszínre hozhat belőlük egy elpárolgott múltból – köztük olyanokat is, amik a mai napig meghatározó elemek a modern társadalomban.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    Although this will not make my Balzac Favorite's List, I'm very glad to have read it. Balzac's purpose in his Comedie Humaine was to provide insight into all aspects of French society. I learned aspects of the merchant class in this, but especially one aspect of finance at the time. Balzac's own introduction of the novel includes this comment: For six years I have kept a rough draft of Cesar Birotteau, despairing of ever being able to interest anyone in the character of a rather stupid, somewhat medioc Although this will not make my Balzac Favorite's List, I'm very glad to have read it. Balzac's purpose in his Comedie Humaine was to provide insight into all aspects of French society. I learned aspects of the merchant class in this, but especially one aspect of finance at the time. Balzac's own introduction of the novel includes this comment: For six years I have kept a rough draft of Cesar Birotteau, despairing of ever being able to interest anyone in the character of a rather stupid, somewhat mediocre shopkeeper, whose misfortunes are commonplace, symbolising that world of the small Parisian tradesman which we so often ridicule...My favorite parts were when he was describing a character (and not Birotteau: Gifted with passionate energy, with a boldness that was almost military in requiring good as well a evil actions from those about him, and justifying such demands on the theory of personal interest, he despised men too much, believing them all corruptible, he was too unscrupulous in the choice of means, thinking all equally good, he was too thoroughly convinced that the success of money was the absolution of all moral mechanism, not to attain his ends sooner or later.My least favorite was that Balzac found it necessary to explain parts of the financial system so that we would understand the story. It seems to me there should have been a way to incorporate the explanation, immediately and directly within the story itself.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Fernando Ferreira

    Avassalador. Se imaginava praticamente impossível fossem alcançados os cumes dramáticos de "O Pai Goriot", Balzac, para espanto meu, repete a dose, com total domínio da arte, em "Ascensão e Queda de César Birotteau". E talvez o faça com mais mérito do que em "O Pai Goriot", pois aqui não estão em jogo os sagrados deveres da piedade filial, mas a simples e prosaica falência de um pequeno comerciante probo e ingênuo. É com esse material, material até certo ponto simplório e v Avassalador. Se imaginava praticamente impossível fossem alcançados os cumes dramáticos de "O Pai Goriot", Balzac, para espanto meu, repete a dose, com total domínio da arte, em "Ascensão e Queda de César Birotteau". E talvez o faça com mais mérito do que em "O Pai Goriot", pois aqui não estão em jogo os sagrados deveres da piedade filial, mas a simples e prosaica falência de um pequeno comerciante probo e ingênuo. É com esse material, material até certo ponto simplório e vulgar, que Balzac ergue um drama empolgante e aterrador, desvelando, com máxima precisão e argúcia, as profundezas da natureza humana em toda a sua grandeza e em toda a sua miséria.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Narendra Jussien

    Le r��cit s'ouvre, en d��cembre 1819, au fa��te de la gloire du personnage ��ponyme, parfumeur et adjoint au maire du deuxi��me arrondissement de Paris ; il se cl��t sur son d��c��s. Il ne faut pourtant pas faire fi des tribulations de ce Christ de boutique, martyris�� sur la croix. Cette d��coration inspire au futur Chevalier de la L��gion d'honneur les d��penses somptuaires d'un bal et lui donne un vertige d'ambition qui l'am��ne �� risquer toute sa fortune. Ruin�� par Sarah Gobseck, le notair Le r��cit s'ouvre, en d��cembre 1819, au fa��te de la gloire du personnage ��ponyme, parfumeur et adjoint au maire du deuxi��me arrondissement de Paris ; il se cl��t sur son d��c��s. Il ne faut pourtant pas faire fi des tribulations de ce Christ de boutique, martyris�� sur la croix. Cette d��coration inspire au futur Chevalier de la L��gion d'honneur les d��penses somptuaires d'un bal et lui donne un vertige d'ambition qui l'am��ne �� risquer toute sa fortune. Ruin�� par Sarah Gobseck, le notaire Roguin flaire en Birotteau une dupe potentielle. Le notaire d��chu entra��ne son ami dans sa d��b��cle : il s'entremet aupr��s de lui dans une affaire de sp��culation immobili��re, s'empare de toutes les ��conomies du parfumeur qui ne lui avait pas demand�� de re��u, et fuit �� l'��tranger. Du Tillet, ancien employ�� de C��sar cong��di�� pour vol, et maintenant admis dans les hautes sph��res de la Banque, est l'instigateur cach�� de cette escroquerie. M�� par un d��sir de vengeance, il ach��ve de perdre Birotteau en sapant son cr��dit aupr��s des banques avec l'aide desquelles le parfumeur aurait pu se tirer de ce mauvais pas. Cependant C��sar, soutenu par le d��vouement de son oncle Pillerault, de sa femme, de sa fille, de son commis Popinot qui, aid�� du g��nial vendeur qu'est Gaudissart, commercialise son huile c��phalique, aid�� enfin par les six mille francs qu'offre Louis XVIII �� ce vieux et fid��le royaliste, rembourse tous ses cr��anciers, est r��habilit�� en 1823 et reprend sa L��gion d'honneur. Mais terrass�� par tant d'��motion, il meurt au jour de son triomphe. Cependant la probit�� de Birotteau est ��galement l'agent de sa mort anticip��e : il s'est tu�� �� rembourser tous ses cr��anciers alors que ce n'est pas l'usage. C��sar Birotteau, c'est d'apr��s Balzac la b��tise de la vertu . En raison m��me de sa conception et des conditions de sa r��daction, C��sar Birotteau est un carrefour de rencontres pour bien des personnages de La Com��die humaine qui s'y retrouvent ou y pr��parent leur retour. Formidable, bien s��r !

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sunrise

    Balzac's portrait in realism is quite informative about financial transactions and its influence on social identity as Paris shifts into reformation. Birotteau's operatic descent into ruin is so meticulous, it's quite applicable and clear parallel to this decade's economic turmoils,so much so, that it's quite possible this work could inspire sympathies for those in business that may not completely understand it's intricacies.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    سزار بیروتو، ترجمه اردشیر نیک پور، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، سال ۱۳۴۳ در مورد بالزاک؛ https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gláucia Renata

    A ideia desse romance surgiu em 1934 mas ficou engavetado por anos até que em 20 de novembro de 1937 um jornal ofereceu 20 mil francos por um romance a ser entregue até o dia 15 de dezembro. Balzac, sempre endividado, não tinha uma linha escrita mas cumpriu o prazo. César Birotteau é um perfumista, casado com Constança e pai de Cesarina, comerciante honesto e até certo ponto ingênuo. Tudo vai bem até que ele passa a ter ambições sociais e para brilhar na sociedade parisiense se envolve em d A ideia desse romance surgiu em 1934 mas ficou engavetado por anos até que em 20 de novembro de 1937 um jornal ofereceu 20 mil francos por um romance a ser entregue até o dia 15 de dezembro. Balzac, sempre endividado, não tinha uma linha escrita mas cumpriu o prazo. César Birotteau é um perfumista, casado com Constança e pai de Cesarina, comerciante honesto e até certo ponto ingênuo. Tudo vai bem até que ele passa a ter ambições sociais e para brilhar na sociedade parisiense se envolve em dívidas enormes que o levam à falência. A narrativa se desenrola nos esforços empreendidos por César e seus amigos para salvar a situação de forma mais honrosa possível. Gostei muito do livro, porém, o que me atrapalhou nele não é demérito do livro mas sim sua grandeza, foi a minuciosa e corretíssima descrição de todo o processo de falência envolvendo vários cargos e funções: proprietários e inquilinos, banqueiros e agiotas, tribunais do comércio, fornecedores e fabricantes. Impressionante observar como Balzac conhece a fundo cada uma dessas partes, certamente por ter vivido um pouco do calvário de César em seus empreendimentos fracassados. Histórico de leitura 01/07/2017 73% (222 de 304) "- Especulação? Que comércio é esse? - É o comércio abstrato. Um comércio que permanecerá secreto durante uma dezena de anos ainda, e pelo qual um homem se apodera da totalidade dos algarismos, tira a nata dos rendimentos antes que existam. Uma concepção gigantesca, uma forma de explorar a esperança, enfim, uma nova cabala!" 01/07/2017 5% (15 de 304) "Nas noites de inverno, o barulho cessa apenas um instante na Rue Saint-Honoré, pois os hortelãos que se dirigem para o mercado continuam o movimento dos que voltam do teatro ou dos bailes."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zek

    בלזאק באחד משיאיו הספרותיים הגדולים. תענוג צרוף.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Vamianaki

    Η ιστορία ενος αρωματοπωλη ο Καίσαρας Μποροτω και η οικογένεια του. μέσα σε αυτό βιβλίο μαθαίνουμε πολλά στοιχεία για το εμπόριο εκείνης της εποχής στην Γαλλία.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    I am pained to ponder that this foulest of years, during which consistent calamity has been the order of every week, may have something to do with my long overdue delving into the genius of Balzac, which began in February with A Harlot High and Low and this afternoon reached the end of Cesar Birotteau. Am I seeking more agony to match my existence found beyond the pages? Or has my literary voyage in some fashion caused me to seek agony? Regardless I shall continue what I have begun, not to test I am pained to ponder that this foulest of years, during which consistent calamity has been the order of every week, may have something to do with my long overdue delving into the genius of Balzac, which began in February with A Harlot High and Low and this afternoon reached the end of Cesar Birotteau. Am I seeking more agony to match my existence found beyond the pages? Or has my literary voyage in some fashion caused me to seek agony? Regardless I shall continue what I have begun, not to test my endurance or capacity for torment, but because from the first to the latest collision I have found Balzac elevated so clearly above any other wordsmith I have come across, other than Dostoyevsky. These two luminaries of outlining the human condition in various spheres, of various ages, have revealed themselves and confirmed line after line their wisdom and supreme ability to paint our accursed species as we are. Namely possessed with and led by on the whole cowardice, duplicity, spitefulness and greed. Cesar is no exception. In fact there is no exception in the 15 novels I have eagerly devoured. The vicious and weak prosper whilst the wholly good suffer endless torment. I shan't offer any outline of the story, other than suggesting powerful, painful parallels which can be drawn with The Idiot...Instead, it seems of greater value to state how engrossed I became from the first page onwards and how my tear ducts loosened as I approached the finale. Balzac was blessed with an exceptionally rare level of perception. He understood humanity and rather than adopt my own futile guise of offering a pip squeak of defiance and squeal for revolution, he embarked on a life long mission to embrace life and to express life as he found it in words. His characters are all too believable, the narratives reasonable, the plight of Good versus Evil slanted on the scales in such an imbalance that assuredly no reader, with a beating feeling heart, can emerge from the experience of reading his works anything less than injured, cynical, saddened yet also wondrously invigorated to find such an honest appraisal of the plight of the decent, and to know that as they suffer terrible agonies, they are the beacons of goodness in an otherwise dark world and to then strive to be one of those beacons. Or be near them always. Usually I read authors who present a lively impact upon my own literary efforts, yet this is not the case at all with Honore. It is more a case of finding the truest depiction of the human condition, offered in many different, incredibly readable narratives. He never wrote to please an audience. This much is clear. He wrote life into words as verbatim to his heart and soul and wily intellect as was humanely possible. And for this I hold him in the highest regard. My reverence is eternal. Yet perhaps, I should take from his penmanship not just confirmation of the worst of my misanthropic tendencies, but the manner in which he embraced life, set aside his astoundingly cynical conclusion of humanity and sought adventure, romance, love, hope in a hopeless world. What causes the most carnage of the soul is to accept that despite the best efforts of many an honourable man and courageous woman, humanity is no different in the Now to how it was 100 or 200 or 500 years ago. We may have become simply more ignorant, less spirited, as the effort required to survive and prosper has greatly lessened. Which leads to the absence of spirit, for spirit is forged through suffering, through finding yourself with the heel of society on your neck as you face down on the concrete. The dumbing down of society, in the name of Profit, is widespread everywhere absent of total corporate control, the seeds of which were been sewn even in Balzac's day. Those who fall into line soil their souls. Those who maintain a steadfast integrity and loyalty to solid values are crushed, attacked, ridiculed and many perish before their time. Considering much of his finest offerings were delivered after experiencing the major movements of what we know as the last great revolution in Europe and the West as a whole, his work stands ever more solid and valuable, as a reckoning of humanity. For come revolution or monarchy or war, humanity remains the same. Through the ages. Generally vicious, cowardly, greedy and deceitful, yet within the ranks, there will always be found a Cesar Birotteau, a Jacques Collins, a Eugenie Grandet and those are the souls we must seek out or aspire to become, for they are the beacons of light in a world of darkness. Cesar Birotteau is highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Justus

    Five Books is a blog where every week or so they interview an expert in a specific field and ask them to recommend five of the best books on the subject. In a recent installment on "The Best Books on Bankruptcy" the interviewee nominated Balzac's Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau as one of the five. I think (it has been several years) that I've previously read Eugénie Grandet and Père Goriot. I don't really remember them or my impression of them very well. I expect I thought they were decent but not amazing. Five Books is a blog where every week or so they interview an expert in a specific field and ask them to recommend five of the best books on the subject. In a recent installment on "The Best Books on Bankruptcy" the interviewee nominated Balzac's Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau as one of the five. I think (it has been several years) that I've previously read Eugénie Grandet and Père Goriot. I don't really remember them or my impression of them very well. I expect I thought they were decent but not amazing. I've always got the impression that Balzac's Human Comedie is famous more for the the scope (100 books!) and general, sustained level of competence rather than individual episodes of brilliance. So I was rather surprised at how hard it was to get into Rise and Fall of Cesar Birtotteau and how much I disliked how Balzac approached things. I actually ended up abandoning them book about 2/3rds of the way through -- even though it was improving at that point -- when I realised my "breaks" were becoming longer & longer. One day I realised I had finished two entire books without reading a single chapter of Cesar Birotteau and that's when I knew it was time to throw in the towel and officially move on. Balzac does two things that made me feel this was an especially poor effort. The first, which makes it quite hard to get much momentum in the early parts of the book, is that whenever a character is initially introduced (even if it is just to mention them in passing!) we are treated to a very, very, very long character study on their looks, habits, and history. So the plot will advance a few paragraphs and then, boom!, a discursive aside about Anselme Popinot. A few pages to advance the story and, bam!, another discursive aside about du Tillet! On du Tillet, Balzac writes In 1813 Ferdinand thought it necessary to register his age, and obtain a civil standing by applying to the courts at Andelys for a judgment, which should enable his baptismal record to be transferred from the registry of the parish to that of the mayor’s office; and he obtained permission to rectify the document by inserting the name of du Tillet, under which he was known, and which legally belonged to him through the fact of his exposure and abandonment in that township. Without father, mother, or other guardian than the procureur imperial, alone in the world and owing no duty to any man, he found society a hard stepmother, and he handled it, in his turn, without gloves,—as the Turks the Moors; he knew no guide but his own interests, and any means to fortune he considered good. This young Norman, gifted with dangerous abilities, coupled his desires for success with the harsh defects which, justly or unjustly, are attributed to the natives of his province. After giving his complete personal history we are then treated to a long description of du Tillet His complexion, which was sanguine under the soft skin of a Norman, had a crude or acrid color. The glance of his eye, whose iris was circled with a whitish rim as if it were lined with silver, was evasive yet terrible when he fixed it straight upon his victim. His voice had a hollow sound, like that of a man worn out with much speaking. His thin lips were not wanting in charm, but his pointed nose and slightly projecting forehead showed defects of race; and his hair, of a tint like hair that has been dyed black, indicated a mongrel descent, through which he derived his mental qualities from some libertine lord, his low instincts from a seduced peasant-girl, his knowledge from an incomplete education, and his vices from his deserted and abandoned condition. This kind of big info-dump felt unnatural. It isn't woven in the story or dialogue. It is just "let's pause everything and have the author talk directly to the audience for a bit". They often feel more like encyclopedia entries on the characters than anything else. Eventually Balzac has finally (finally!) introduced all of the characters and set the stage for Birotteau's fall. And that's when my second problem began: I felt like Balzac was in such a hurry to construct the tale of a merchant sliding into bankruptcy that everything felt a bit contrived. The plotting felt artificial rather than natural. One example of this comes eight days after the Birotteau's ball: “All insolvents are suspicious characters,” said Cesar, exasperated by his little loss, which sounded in his ears like the first cry of the view-halloo in the ears of the game. At this moment the late major-domo brought in Chevet’s account, followed by a clerk sent by Felix, a waiter from the cafe Foy, and Collinet’s clarionet, each with a bill. Within a 15 minute window Birotteau receives 4 different bills (none of which he can pay). Instead of a slowly mounting dawning realization that he's sliding towards bankruptcy it felt more like Balzac was hitting you over the head. They all come in the same 15 minutes? Really? It just felt...inartful. The book does pick up a bit after that point but Balzac continues to slide in more contrived plotting. Birotteau's arch-enemy momentarily feels some pity for him and is about to be magnanimous and loan him the money he needs to avoid bankruptcy. “Du Tillet,” said the worthy man [Cesar Birotteau], with gravity and emphasis, and rising to take the hand of his former clerk, “I give you back my esteem.” “What! had I lost it?” cried du Tillet, so violently stabbed in the very bosom of his prosperity that the color came into his face. “Lost?—well, not precisely,” said Birotteau, thunder-struck at his own stupidity: “they told me certain things about your liaison with Madame Roguin. The devil! taking the wife of another man—” “You are beating round the bush, old fellow,” thought du Tillet, and as the words crossed his mind he came back to his original project, and vowed to bring that virtue low, to trample it under foot, to render despicable in the marts of Paris the honorable and virtuous merchant [Cesar Birotteau]" It is a bit hard to imagine a merchant as savvy as Birotteau saying something like that to a man who is in the middle of loaning him a substantial amount of money. In any case, it was shortly after this that I decided I just wasn't invested in the book -- the characters, the plot, or anything -- enough to continue reading it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ignas

    So you have an uncle. He's overbearing, plump, and his head desperately needs the services of a hairdresser, or, if money's the matter (and it always is with him) at least a visit to a men's room. They don't even sweep the floor there, can you imagine the ordeal your poor uncle would have to go through (cause he doesn't, seeing how he never has his fucking hair cut) every time he went there, stepping over heaps of hair and what not In any case, your uncle likes the occasional family g So you have an uncle. He's overbearing, plump, and his head desperately needs the services of a hairdresser, or, if money's the matter (and it always is with him) at least a visit to a men's room. They don't even sweep the floor there, can you imagine the ordeal your poor uncle would have to go through (cause he doesn't, seeing how he never has his fucking hair cut) every time he went there, stepping over heaps of hair and what not In any case, your uncle likes the occasional family get-together, and he may be the reason why they're more often than you'd prefer. Oh, ma cherie sister, I've missed you so much, and your loveliest children (he doesn't miss your father, his brother-in-law, that much, because HE SEES THROUGH HIS BULLSHIT), how about this Saturday? And it's always at your house, you're not even sure he even has a house, or an apartment, it's like he materializes out of thin air right before ringing your doorbell, and vanishes into the primordial soup promptly after bidding his leave. An eternal uncle. He never shuts the fuck up. He never says anything about anything, just blabbers on and on, and mon Dieux, the variety of the exclamations he employs to signify his surprise, indignation or whatever at even the most mundane occurrences he happens to hear about is, simply, staggering. Though, I must say, you love the schmuck. And not just because he is your uncle.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aud

    Alright, in the end I have to admit that this book was quite interesting. I found it quite stunning how someone can lose so much in so little time. Also it teaches you a lot about French trade, which wasn't that different back to Balzac's time. It is truly an amazing and dedicated work. The characters, especially Cesar, his wife and his daughter, are touching with their humanity and their goodness. Balzac has a critical look on Cesar, which is refreshing. We know where his faults and qualities a Alright, in the end I have to admit that this book was quite interesting. I found it quite stunning how someone can lose so much in so little time. Also it teaches you a lot about French trade, which wasn't that different back to Balzac's time. It is truly an amazing and dedicated work. The characters, especially Cesar, his wife and his daughter, are touching with their humanity and their goodness. Balzac has a critical look on Cesar, which is refreshing. We know where his faults and qualities are, and Balzac doesn't try to emphasise on said-qualities and reduce the flaws. Cesar is human, he does mistakes, but the point of the book is that he will fix these mistakes, no matter what. However, there is a lot of descriptions and it was quite boring sometimes, especially at the beginning of the book where almost all the characters are described and it is then difficult to see why it is relevant. Anyway I found myself really shaken near the end of the book and it surprised me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Garth

    Balzac himself always speaks of his characters as of natural phenomena, and when he wants to describe his artistic intentions, he never speaks of his psychology, but always of his sociology, of his natural history of society and of the function of the individual in the life of the social body. He became, anyhow, the master of the social novel, if not as the 'doctor of the social sciences', as he described himself, yet as the founder of the new conception of man, according to which 'the individu Balzac himself always speaks of his characters as of natural phenomena, and when he wants to describe his artistic intentions, he never speaks of his psychology, but always of his sociology, of his natural history of society and of the function of the individual in the life of the social body. He became, anyhow, the master of the social novel, if not as the 'doctor of the social sciences', as he described himself, yet as the founder of the new conception of man, according to which 'the individual exists only in relation to society. His writings are wordy, descriptive, and not for those who are easily bored, suffering from narcolepsy, or driving long distances.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mazel

    Adolphe, le plus fin des deux frères, un vrai loup-cervier, jeta sur Birotteau un regard q'il faut appeler le regard du banquier, et qui tient de celui des vautours et des avoués... - Veuillez m'envoyer les actes sur lesquels repose l'affaire de la Madeleine, dit-il... Si l'affaire est bonne, nous pourrons, pour ne pas vous grever, nous contenter d'une part dans les bénéfices au lieu d'un escompte. « Allons, se dit Birotteau..., je vois ce dont il s'agit. Comme le castor poursuivi, je dois me dé Adolphe, le plus fin des deux frères, un vrai loup-cervier, jeta sur Birotteau un regard q'il faut appeler le regard du banquier, et qui tient de celui des vautours et des avoués... - Veuillez m'envoyer les actes sur lesquels repose l'affaire de la Madeleine, dit-il... Si l'affaire est bonne, nous pourrons, pour ne pas vous grever, nous contenter d'une part dans les bénéfices au lieu d'un escompte. « Allons, se dit Birotteau..., je vois ce dont il s'agit. Comme le castor poursuivi, je dois me débarrasser d'une partie de ma peau. Il vaut mieux se laisser tondre que de mourir. »

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ray Noyes

    OK if the reader has a good working knowledge of accounts. The technical twists and turns of the central character's indebtedness eventually led to me abandoning it. Pity, because initially it was a delight to read, as Balzac usually is. My paperback copy of the book was extremely old, in spite of being bought new. I assumed from its condition that it had been on the bookseller's shelves for many years, reflecting how little read it is. Now I know why!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dagny

    Cesar Birotteau is a successful dealer in perfumes; he is also very ambitious. When M. Birotteau is awarded the Legion of Honor, he celebrates with a ball which is talked about in Paris for years. His daughter, an only child, is in love with a former clerk of her father's business who is an orphan with no means.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    Not my favorite of B's, but good nonetheless. The rise and fall of fortunes is one of his pet themes, and I am on board for all that. Also, he has that peculiar French way of describing houses, rooms, streets, the city of Paris - with exact and loving detail. Always a delight to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    James

    With its focus on Cesar's property speculations, the nature of high finance, and the intrigues of bankruptcy laws, the story in this novel feels "ripped from the headlines."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Hilger

    This is a novel about business, commerce, and what doesn't matter in life (except when it does). It's an amazingly modern story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Guillaume Frasca

    Un commerçant prospère, royaliste auréolé d’une légion d’honneur offerte au retour des Bourbons, se retrouve au centre d’une machination spéculative ayant pour but de le plonger dans la ruine et le déshonneur. Attendrissant par sa naïveté, César Birotteau est l’un des plus beaux personnages de Balzac.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebelle

    Un peu de pain qu'on mange tous les jours pas trop pour ne pas que ce soit indigeste mais qu'est ce qu'on aime ça. A lire un peu chaque jour, d'où l'exemple, mais quand on le finit on a vraiment l'impression d'avoir lu un chef d'oeuvre comme toute la Comédie humaine. On ne peut qu'aimer tant le talent de l'auteur est incomparable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana Pereira

    One of the best, although not as famous as Balzac's hits. The story and characters are realistic and close to jumping off the pages with vitality. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christine Raya

    With its focus on Cesar's property speculations, the nature of high finance, and the intrigues of bankruptcy laws, the story in this novel feels "ripped from the headlines

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ovgu

    I had to read this book for my phd class to evaluate the management philosophy in it. It is ok for its time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Valérie

    Tellement encore d'actualité, ça fait peur!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jacopo

    Un Balzac moins courru

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