La Peau de Chagrin , The Magic Skin or The Wild Ass's Skin) is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Etudes philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comedie humaine. Before the book was completed, Balzac created excitement about it by publishing a series of articles and story fragments in several Parisian journals. Although he was five months late in delivering the manuscript, he succeeded in generating sufficient interest that the novel sold out instantly upon its publication. A second edition, which included a series of twelve other "philosophical tales", was released one month later. Although the novel uses fantastic elements, its main focus is a realistic portrayal of the excesses of bourgeois materialism. Balzac's renowned attention to detail is used to describe a gambling house, an antique shop, a royal banquet, and other locales. He also includes details from his own life as a struggling writer, placing the main character in a home similar to the one he occupied at the start of his literary career. The central theme of La Peau de chagrin is the conflict between desire and longevity. The magic skin represents the owner's life-force, which is depleted through every expression of will, especially when it is employed for the acquisition of power. Ignoring a caution from the shopkeeper who offers him the skin, the protagonist greedily surrounds himself with wealth, only to find himself miserable and decrepit at the story's end. La Peau de chagrin firmly established Balzac as a writer of significance in France. His social circle widened significantly, and he was sought eagerly by publishers for future projects. The book served as the catalyst for a series of letters he exchanged with a Polish baroness named Ewelina Hanska, who later became his wife. It also inspired Giselher Klebe's opera Die todlichen Wunsche.
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Honore de Balzac ; 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comedie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon. Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multifaceted characters, who are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Benito Pérez Galdos, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx. Many of Balzac's works have been made into or have inspired films, and they are a continuing source of inspiration for writers, filmmakers and critics.
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Book Description CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Paperback. Book Condition: Fair. Bookseller Inventory # G1481944037I5N00