This week, our reading recommendation comes from Emily Carman, who suggests PËre Goriot by HonorÈ De Balzac.
As an English major, I have found that once the semester begins, I do not have time to read books for pleasure. No, I am not suggesting that reading a book for a class cannot be fun. The difference between reading for pleasure and reading for school relates to the obvious fact that I do not have a choice in the latter. When my professor hands out a syllabus and informs me that I will be reading Balzac, I sit down and read Balzac. One of the great things, though, about being an English major is that I was exposed to Balzac. If not for class, Balzac would have forever remained on my mental list of authors to read one of these days.
I highly recommend PËre Goriot because it is a novel that incites a variety of emotions. Most of the characters that parade through the novel are both admirable and incredibly flawed, and their actions are both frustrating and depressing. At certain points in the story you may feel for a character, but eventually you cannot sympathize anymore because Balzac discloses something that makes you change your mind. Balzac is an ingenious writer who is able to make you respect and despise a character simultaneously, and never really explains which sentiment is the appropriate one. I most sympathized with the character Goriot, though at the same time I could not help but hold him accountable for perpetuating his own hard luck. In the dismal Parisian boardinghouse Balzac depicts, individuals are discarded by a society that is characterized as being noxious, alarming, and deceptive. Balzac’s world is haunting and incredibly moving, and I invite you to explore the intricacies of Balzac’s prose. I found it a stirring and stimulating experience - Balzac will prove worth your time!