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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Cousin Pons Audiobook PACK [book + 1 CD MP3]

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    Death, it is often said, is the end of a journey, but few people know how apt this simile is in Paris. Much like Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich, Cousin Pons is a meditation on mortality. Balzac's portrait is more cynical than mournful. The warmth of affection between the two friends is effaced by the calculating menace of those surrounding them. The structures of jurisprudence and medicine appear predatory. Despite that, there is Pons and his faithful Schmucke. There is much to admire and empathize in the Death, it is often said, is the end of a journey, but few people know how apt this simile is in Paris. Much like Tolstoy's Ivan Ilyich, Cousin Pons is a meditation on mortality. Balzac's portrait is more cynical than mournful. The warmth of affection between the two friends is effaced by the calculating menace of those surrounding them. The structures of jurisprudence and medicine appear predatory. Despite that, there is Pons and his faithful Schmucke. There is much to admire and empathize in these two bumblers. I found Balzac's portrayal as always brilliant. Despite the pun, this could be no country for (poor) old men. There are a number of ill placed slurs lingering about. I find that disturbing but not a fatal flaw. Read Jim Paris' review https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    One of the words to make an appearance in the OED's latest update is the acronym ‘YOLO’, which, the editors note, is traced back to its antecedent, the axiomatic you only live once (first used in a nineteenth-century English translation of Balzac) […]. Well who saw that coming. Thanks to the magic of Google Books you can see the relevant passage: Or, comme les salaires de Cibot produisaient environ sept à huit cent francs en moyenne par an, les époux se faisaient, avec leurs étrennes, un revenu de One of the words to make an appearance in the OED's latest update is the acronym ‘YOLO’, which, the editors note, is traced back to its antecedent, the axiomatic you only live once (first used in a nineteenth-century English translation of Balzac) […]. Well who saw that coming. Thanks to the magic of Google Books you can see the relevant passage: Or, comme les salaires de Cibot produisaient environ sept à huit cent francs en moyenne par an, les époux se faisaient, avec leurs étrennes, un revenu de seize cent francs, à la lettre mangés par les Cibot qui vivaient mieux que ne vivent les gens du peuple. « On ne vit qu'une fois ! » disait la Cibot. Coming soon: how Elizabeth Gaskell coined FML.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    4.5 stars. I have jumped around quite a bit while reading Balzac’s The Human Comedy, starting with The Unknown Masterpiece and Gambara, and then going back to what is probably his best known work, Père Goriot. Last year was my year of Shakespeare. This is my year of Proust. I think that my next ambitious literary reading endeavor is to immerse myself in the entirety of Balzac’s Human Comedy, that immense and impressive collection of nearly 100 works. It is well-known that Balzac had an addiction 4.5 stars. I have jumped around quite a bit while reading Balzac’s The Human Comedy, starting with The Unknown Masterpiece and Gambara, and then going back to what is probably his best known work, Père Goriot. Last year was my year of Shakespeare. This is my year of Proust. I think that my next ambitious literary reading endeavor is to immerse myself in the entirety of Balzac’s Human Comedy, that immense and impressive collection of nearly 100 works. It is well-known that Balzac had an addiction to coffee and consumed quantities of caffeine sufficient to keep a whale up for a fortnight (estimates vary, but many suggest that he drank around 50 cups a day!). He also had a somewhat unusual technique of writing several stories and novels at the same time, perhaps a result of creativity in overdrive. Some suggest that Balzac’s addiction to coffee contributed to his untimely death. But without the artificial energy to keep him going, would we then have ever known the sociological, philosophical and literary genius that make up The Human Comedy? As a writer, Balzac had a great influence on many others, like Baudelaire, Marx and Proust (just to name a few). And he was likewise influenced by the likes of great French writers before him, notably Molière (whom is referenced many times in this particular work – with great focus placed on Molière’s Tartuffe). What I have noticed in Balzac’s works so far (themes which apparently weave throughout his Human Comedy) is that he places a great deal of emphasis on greed and money, family relations and the social ills of 19th century Parisian life. Balzac holds a mirror up to society and show it its grotesque image, portraying Parisian society of the 19th century as “a jungle wherein human nature is not less ‘red in tooth in claw’ than the animal nature from which it derives” (Buñuel? Renoir?). His works can really be characterized as comedies of manners, many with dark undertones. As the translator of this particular edition, Herbert Hunt, writes: “[Balzac] is pessimistic but not despairing, of human nature at an age, and in a milieu, when the blackest crimes were blandly committed under a cloak of legality.” What I have learned in the introduction to this work and then in the work itself is that many of Balzac’s characters make repeat appearances throughout The Human Comedy, and it is partly for this reason – and because of the unifying themes – that I want to read the works in their entirety (I found some good suggestions online for reading order). Cousin Pons was written near the end of Balzac’s life and in many ways reflects perhaps his own thoughts about mortality, with a main character who seems to be a fragment of the great author himself, who was, like Pons, known to have an affection for antiquing (collecting “bric-a-brac”) and for gluttony. As the translator writes, “‘Cousin Pons’ has made the search for succulent dinners his main purpose in life.” And though writing was likely Balzac’s main purpose, his affection for gastronomic pleasures was probably at times of great import. When Balzac writes about food, and of great valuables, the reader gets a sense of the strong affinity he has for it and the narrative becomes full of life. The work is filled with interesting musings on devotion (is there a truer friend in the world than Pons’ dear Monsieur Schmucke?), greed, music, life and death, food and so much more. And it is Balzac’s insight on this crazy world that makes this tragic, yet comic tale so intriguing so many years later. It is not my favorite of Balzac’s works that I’ve read so far, but it is nonetheless a delightful, insightful and entertaining read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    This starts off strongly, just as I might expect with Balzac. While this is in his duet he called "Poor Relations", we learn almost immediately that Cousin Pons did not suffer what you and I might call poverty. He was cash poor, perhaps, but had become a collector of small items of art, and those had appreciated immensely. The Government sent Sylvain Pons to Rome to make a great musician of himself; and in Rome Sylvain Pons acquired a taste for the antique and works of art. He became an admirabl This starts off strongly, just as I might expect with Balzac. While this is in his duet he called "Poor Relations", we learn almost immediately that Cousin Pons did not suffer what you and I might call poverty. He was cash poor, perhaps, but had become a collector of small items of art, and those had appreciated immensely. The Government sent Sylvain Pons to Rome to make a great musician of himself; and in Rome Sylvain Pons acquired a taste for the antique and works of art. He became an admirable judge of those masterpieces of the brain and hand which are summed up by the useful neologism “bric-a-brac;” and when the child of Euterpe returned to Paris somewhere about the year 1810, it was in the character of a rabid collector, loaded with pictures, statuettes, frames, wood-carving, ivories, enamels, porcelains, and the like. He had sunk the greater part of his patrimony, not so much in the purchases themselves as on the expenses of transit; and every penny inherited from his mother had been spent in the course of a three-years’ travel in Italy after the residence in Rome came to an end. He had seen Venice, Milan, Florence, Bologna, and Naples leisurely, as he wished to see them, as a dreamer of dreams, and a philosopher; careless of the future, for an artist looks to his talent for support as the fille de joie counts upon her beauty. Despite the interest in the early going, this descended into somewhat of a slog, before returning to a more interesting novel. I had a hard time staying with it for a bit and actually stopped to read a couple of mysteries. This ended up being exactly the right strategy. Was it truly a slog or was I just not in the right frame of mind for Balzac? In any case, I seemed to have stopped in just the right place, for when I came back to it, I found it interesting again. I often expect Balzac to have a somewhat surprising ending and one with a decided bit of irony. I cannot imagine what he was thinking here, because he foretold where we could expect this to go. One might easily expect skulduggery with an older single man who is discovered to have accumulated a fortune in art. We are not surprised, then, when conspiracies abound. There are conflicting conspiracies - who will win out? There was one small piece that I did not anticipate but Balzac wraps things up so quickly that we are not allowed to feel the full thrust of the irony. This is just a high 3-stars for me. I had certainly hoped for more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meen

    For the past couple years I've had a lot of trouble reading fiction. It was like everything I read just fell flat. I wondered if it was just that I had become such a skeptic in the rest of my life that I could no longer suspend disbelief enough to really buy into something make-believe. Now, I was going through a lot of crap personally, so lots of stress, and I don't know why that would inhibit my ability to escape into a story, but I thought maybe it did. Whatever it was, I just ended up readin For the past couple years I've had a lot of trouble reading fiction. It was like everything I read just fell flat. I wondered if it was just that I had become such a skeptic in the rest of my life that I could no longer suspend disbelief enough to really buy into something make-believe. Now, I was going through a lot of crap personally, so lots of stress, and I don't know why that would inhibit my ability to escape into a story, but I thought maybe it did. Whatever it was, I just ended up reading and enjoying a lot more nonfiction and figured maybe I just couldn't do fiction anymore. And then came Balzac*. Ahhhhhh... Despite its ultimately sad and cynical outcome, this book was a joyous experience. Luckily, La Comédie humaine is massive and I should have enough enjoyable fiction to last me through the misery of law school. *Actually, now that I think about it, I did read Droll Stories a few years ago and adored them. (Note to self: when you find something you adore, try some more of that.) **The copy I own is a Penguin from 1968. I don't think I bothered trying to find the exact one when I listed the book on my shelves because there were just so damn many.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    The friendship of Pons and Schmucke is a moving one and raises questions of loyalty, faithfulness and tolerance. Two aged musicians live together in Paris under Madame Cibot the concierge of their apartment building. Pons is a collector of art and as amassed a valuable collection. He is also a bit of a miser and glutton who has been eating dinner with his wealthy relatives for years. They have a falling out and blacken his name wrongly after his attempt of being matchmaker for his cousins ugly d The friendship of Pons and Schmucke is a moving one and raises questions of loyalty, faithfulness and tolerance. Two aged musicians live together in Paris under Madame Cibot the concierge of their apartment building. Pons is a collector of art and as amassed a valuable collection. He is also a bit of a miser and glutton who has been eating dinner with his wealthy relatives for years. They have a falling out and blacken his name wrongly after his attempt of being matchmaker for his cousins ugly daughter fails. He then goes into decline with only his friend Schmucke a simple minded German with the devotion of a faithful dog. People become aware of his wealth and the vultures begin to circle. Other collectors, his relatives, a lawyer and his concierge all vying for a share of the spoils. This tragic comedy is true to life with the baddies being rewarded and the good not so much. The last part of the novel is brilliant with Pons trying to outdo the greedy corrupt lawyer Frazier. A great story with hidden depths of the greed and corruption of people. I did laugh out loud finding out the fate of Rémonencq.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Cousin Pons was Honoré de Balzac's last great novel, and certainly his grimmest. Picture to yourself an old bachelor named Sylvain Pons who, over the years, has collected a fortune in paintings and objects d'art. His sole vice was to eat out with distant relatives, including the Camusota. When the latter break with him over some molehill of which they make into a mountain, Pons takes to his bed and never gets up from it again. In the meantime, the value of his holdings, totaling as much as a mill Cousin Pons was Honoré de Balzac's last great novel, and certainly his grimmest. Picture to yourself an old bachelor named Sylvain Pons who, over the years, has collected a fortune in paintings and objects d'art. His sole vice was to eat out with distant relatives, including the Camusota. When the latter break with him over some molehill of which they make into a mountain, Pons takes to his bed and never gets up from it again. In the meantime, the value of his holdings, totaling as much as a million francs, comes to be known to his concierge and various allies whom she enlists, including a doctor named Poulain and a crooked lawyer named Fraisier, who conspire to get their hands on his collection, even if it means committing felonies to do so. Pons's only friend is an elderly German musician named Schmucke, who lives with him, and who is dedicated heart and soul to him. To Mme Cibot the concierge and the others, he is just a speed bump on the road to their attaining a fortune. This novel is like a dark symphony, along the lines of "Night on Bald Mountain" (without that musical piece's hopeful ending), in which palpable evil is incarnate and swirls around the desperately ill Pons and his friend Schmucke. This is not one of those cases where good triumphs in the end: It is, after all, a work by Balzac -- and one of his very best. I recommend this novel to anyone who is not likely to get depressed reading about the driving of two old men to their deaths. As I got to the last chapters, I knew I could not put the book down without finishing it. The ending is extremely harrowing. This is the third time I have read Cousin Pons. Few novels hold up as well to repeated readings.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    Three and a half stars. Poor Pons! This is a dark, satirical look at treasure hunting and how greed and a thirst for power make people do terrible things. Pons has amassed a collection of bric-a-brac but lives a poor life. Once the value of his things becomes known, people in his life begin to wonder how they can inherit his wealth. The characters are vivid and their motives transparent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    Update 30/5/19 This book is just so sad it hurts. Second read: Nothing more to say except: I want Cibot to diiiiiiiiiiiie! I was so annoyed by this book, not because it is not good, but because most of the characters - all of them except three - depict corruption, greed. They want to get money by all means, even if they have to strip someone they neither know nor understand. I was so infuriated while I read!! Pons and Schmucke are children, naive and fond of each other. Some scenes really moved me Update 30/5/19 This book is just so sad it hurts. Second read: Nothing more to say except: I want Cibot to diiiiiiiiiiiie! I was so annoyed by this book, not because it is not good, but because most of the characters - all of them except three - depict corruption, greed. They want to get money by all means, even if they have to strip someone they neither know nor understand. I was so infuriated while I read!! Pons and Schmucke are children, naive and fond of each other. Some scenes really moved me, and wanted to help them so much! I don't tend to love Balzac's books, but he clearly has a talent to show human condition, the way humans can be wolves for each other. This book was really depressing to me; I so wanted the good side to win!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maan Kawas

    Impressive, moving, disturbing, but great! I really loved this novel by Balzac about greed, people obsessed with money, the corruptive power of money, virtues vs. vices, law, real friendship, and hypocrisy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cole

    Certainly not my favorite of the Balzacs that I have read so far. I really struggled to get into this one for about the first half. Once it sort of devolved into a conspiracy to re-direct an inheritance it really got going into the type of story that intrigues me most with Balzac. Definitely contains echoes of "Pere Goriot" in it's cynical view of Parisian funeral proceedings as a long haul of exploitative bureaucracy. Also, Schmucke is probably the most endearing character I've come across in a Certainly not my favorite of the Balzacs that I have read so far. I really struggled to get into this one for about the first half. Once it sort of devolved into a conspiracy to re-direct an inheritance it really got going into the type of story that intrigues me most with Balzac. Definitely contains echoes of "Pere Goriot" in it's cynical view of Parisian funeral proceedings as a long haul of exploitative bureaucracy. Also, Schmucke is probably the most endearing character I've come across in any of Balzac's novels so far. There's a lot to like here. I often feel that Balzac begins extremely strong and peters out towards the end, and this one seems to have the opposite problem. Interestingly enough, I prefer it the usual way.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Fidler

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Balzac is a master of his art. Only a master could make me so utterly despondent and depressed at the downfall of the main protagonist, Cousin Pons, and his best friend, Schumucke. I adored them both as the 'two nutcrackers,' despite their character flaws (Balzac is not known for creating fictions personages, he endows them all with the realism of vice developed through a lifetime). While Balzac portrayed Cousin Pons's lust for gourmet food--which he obtained by visiting his local 'family' at di Balzac is a master of his art. Only a master could make me so utterly despondent and depressed at the downfall of the main protagonist, Cousin Pons, and his best friend, Schumucke. I adored them both as the 'two nutcrackers,' despite their character flaws (Balzac is not known for creating fictions personages, he endows them all with the realism of vice developed through a lifetime). While Balzac portrayed Cousin Pons's lust for gourmet food--which he obtained by visiting his local 'family' at dinner time, making him a 'parasite' to some--as a flaw, he did such an exquisite job describing this desire that I eventually no longer saw it as a flaw at all... which may have been Balzac's point. "One of the keenest pleasures in Pons’s former mode of living indeed one of the real joys of a man who dines at other people’s tables) had been the surprise, the gastronomic effect of an exceptional dish, a delicacy triumphantly served up by a hostess intent on imparting a really festive air to the dinner she is giving. Pons missed this gourmet’s delight. Madame Cibot was in the habit of proudly announcing the dishes she was about to serve, and Pons could never look forward to the occasional thrill of something unexpected, something which formerly, in our grandparents’ household, went by the name of a ‘covered dish’. This was a mystery to Schmucke. Pons was too polite to complain, but if there is a more lamentable thing than misunderstood genius, it is a stomach whose yearnings are left unsatisfied. Unrequited love—a theme overexploited in drama—is based on an inessential need; for, if we are spurned by one of God’s creatures, we can give our love to God, who can heap treasures upon us. But an unrequited stomach!... no suffering can be compared to this, for good living comes first! ...And so the memory of the dinners he had eaten made the orchestra-conductor lose a lot of weight: he was stricken with gastric nostalgia." Lingering with my sadness in the demise of Pons and Schmucke by the greed of others is a sudden need to serve a covered dish.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I was loving this, until a constant barrage of anti-Semitic comments put me off. You can see some of them in my updates, and I don't intend to go into it in detail here. I am aware of the period he was writing in but that is no excuse. I was loving this, until a constant barrage of anti-Semitic comments put me off. You can see some of them in my updates, and I don't intend to go into it in detail here. I am aware of the period he was writing in but that is no excuse.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    the perfect counterpart to cousin bette. here the scheming villainy is played up as a grotesque comedy. there really needs to be a balzac wiki

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    In the usual Balzac vein of exploring human nature’s dark underbelly, in this book he also glorifies the value & sweetness of true love and friendship. A wonderfully wrought story also illuminating Paris of the 1840’s.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    1847 My first Balzac. Definitely a good writer. [Though I am going on a Dutch translation since I can't read French... - Neef Pons] It's harrowing for me to read in such great detail how normal ordinary people start manipulating and deceiving in order to cheat an honest but vulnerable man out of his possessions, hastening his death. Almost unbearable to read 300 pages of this inhumane behavior. But Balzac describes it all very plausibly and makes good points about the slippery slope -- how easy it i 1847 My first Balzac. Definitely a good writer. [Though I am going on a Dutch translation since I can't read French... - Neef Pons] It's harrowing for me to read in such great detail how normal ordinary people start manipulating and deceiving in order to cheat an honest but vulnerable man out of his possessions, hastening his death. Almost unbearable to read 300 pages of this inhumane behavior. But Balzac describes it all very plausibly and makes good points about the slippery slope -- how easy it is, once you get started deceiving someone, to just go on and on and worse and worse. Seems to be no way to turn back. Balzac seems to have a keen appreciation of human nature, of psychology. It's amazing to read how marriages were so much based on money and property. One rich couple give their own main estate to their prospective son-in-law to get him to agree to marry the daughter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Oh dear, poor old Cousin Pons, victim of one treachery after another! This is one of Balzac's very best, intricately plotted with superb characterisation. The women, Mme Camusot de Marville and Mme Cibot are as malevolent as Balzac knows how, and the assortment of lawyers, doctors, and sly dealers in antiquities are as greedy and dishonest as the women. As for Schmucke - well named indeed. My only reservation is the anti-Semitic characterisation of M Magus. I have encountered this before in Balza Oh dear, poor old Cousin Pons, victim of one treachery after another! This is one of Balzac's very best, intricately plotted with superb characterisation. The women, Mme Camusot de Marville and Mme Cibot are as malevolent as Balzac knows how, and the assortment of lawyers, doctors, and sly dealers in antiquities are as greedy and dishonest as the women. As for Schmucke - well named indeed. My only reservation is the anti-Semitic characterisation of M Magus. I have encountered this before in Balzac, and I don't like it at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Much less satisfying than Cousin Bette -- Cousin Pons was less humourous, less gratifying to those with certain moral inclinations, and unfortunately, a bit disappointing in that certain fascinating characters were left underutilized.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Macartney

    great beginning. I laughed out loud. Will get back to some time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    I love Balzac! A great story with a sad but realistic ending. Very good suspense and drama packing into one little neighborhood in Paris.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Wells

    Five stars - incredible book - please read after/before Cousin Bette(another 5 star read in my view)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mehdi

    A wonderfully-executed classic from the best novelist of the 19th century

  23. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Vamianaki

    I read half of it. It was a bit boring for me

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Fenerov

    Sylvain Pons is an old-fashioned, professional musician who, although promising at the beginning of his career, has managed to be a conductor in a second-class theatre in Paris. He lives poorly in an apartment with his only friend, Wilhelm Schmucke, a German pianist who is also unmarried and self-indulgent, who feeds an excessive love for Pons. Their household has taken over (payable, of course, as he rightly writes in the introduction to "..in the world of Balzac nothing is a jab") the concierg Sylvain Pons is an old-fashioned, professional musician who, although promising at the beginning of his career, has managed to be a conductor in a second-class theatre in Paris. He lives poorly in an apartment with his only friend, Wilhelm Schmucke, a German pianist who is also unmarried and self-indulgent, who feeds an excessive love for Pons. Their household has taken over (payable, of course, as he rightly writes in the introduction to "..in the world of Balzac nothing is a jab") the concierge of the building where they live, Madam Simbo, a petty petty slut who Pon is possessed of two passions: the collection of artefacts and food. In the first he is devoted to the full, deprives himself of the basics so that he can buy a snack or a table and this dedication has the effect of making a collection from 1907, as will be shown later, of precious objects.His second love is food, in particular good food which he can only access as a guest at the dinners of Camusot de Marville's family, whose distant cousin is. and his disgusting look is made a mockery of his "relatives" but also of the servants of the house still, but that does not hurt him, for he is well worth the wait.But two incidents deeply hurt him. First, the unacceptable behaviour of the couple's young daughter Camusot, who, without a trace of shyness, carves a malicious plaque at the expense of the poor cousin, leaving a wound to his dignity. And a second unsuccessful consul that Pons is trying to make on his own that results in the outrage of Camusot and his final ostracism from the bosom of the "good" family.These two blows are unbearable for Pons and throw him into bed severely ill. And here comes the real drama of the poor collector ... When the ultimate value of the Pons collection comes to light, it becomes a mess, crows are everywhere everywhere trying to grab something from the musician's estate. Irony, mockery and half give way to 'love', caring and flattery. Doorkeepers, blacksmiths, lawyers, doctors, relatives or not, go into the dance and as raptors try to grab whatever they can. Pons is almost unprotected, the only one standing at his side is Schmucke's friend with the help of which the ill man makes vain efforts to save his collection.The end of the book is a little unexpected, I leave it to future readers to see it for themselves.The book is informally divided into two parts. In the first part Balzac introduces us to the story, introduces us to the environment, describing the various protagonists while in the second part (the fall of Pons in bed) the real action begins. So if it sounds like a tiring book in the beginning, it's worth going a little further and Balzac's chaotic world will open up to you. He is a sad writer, he does not embellish anything, he presents things as he is, he reveals all the ugliness of the human species. He's outrageous I would say in his honesty, there were a few times I really wanted to get into the book and put two guys in the wood.It's a great book, I wonder if I had read and kept it so long on my bookshelf.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael David

    I have to admit, I'm a cynic. I have been a cynic for a long time, and it's one of my defense mechanisms to cope with my occasional hopelessness toward humanity. Cynicism also helps me prepare for the untoward possibilities in life. Cynicism is also my reminder against becoming what I abhor: it's my elixir against hypocrisy. At times, my cynicism is excessive that I am unfeeling and insensitive at times. This novel made me realize that despite everything, my empathy remains intact. It features t I have to admit, I'm a cynic. I have been a cynic for a long time, and it's one of my defense mechanisms to cope with my occasional hopelessness toward humanity. Cynicism also helps me prepare for the untoward possibilities in life. Cynicism is also my reminder against becoming what I abhor: it's my elixir against hypocrisy. At times, my cynicism is excessive that I am unfeeling and insensitive at times. This novel made me realize that despite everything, my empathy remains intact. It features two eccentrics, the eponymous Pons and Schmucke, who were the archetypes of the Odd Couple that appeared a century later. Despite their quirks, however, both were people who were innocuous at worst. Pons had an eccentricity in which he haggled for great works of art, and often got them, too. Schmucke, on the other hand, was a patently good man through and through. I felt for the both of them, because they were both good men, but Cousin Pons is just another bitter reminder that innocent goodness is obsolescent in this world. Just like Prince Myshkin of Dostoevsky's Idiot, goodness gets you killed. It's sad that a transcendent friendship was extirpated in such a manner, but that's reality. There are really only few friends one could entrust with one's life, and trust isn't a commodity that should be freely given away. When there exists a friendship like that, however, and it's torn asunder by unscrupulous people, I'm still affected. I'm still human, after all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    erl

    Well written without a doubt, the blatant antisemitism of the author really detracts from the story line. Balzac illustrates how the little guy continues to get thrown under the bus in France, revolution be damned. True as that may be, there is no reason for the one and only Jew to be so despicable a character. Shylock is more sympathetic. Indeed, none of the characters are particularly likable. Pons himself is described as beyond homely; Mme la presidente is an avaricious social climber; Schmuc Well written without a doubt, the blatant antisemitism of the author really detracts from the story line. Balzac illustrates how the little guy continues to get thrown under the bus in France, revolution be damned. True as that may be, there is no reason for the one and only Jew to be so despicable a character. Shylock is more sympathetic. Indeed, none of the characters are particularly likable. Pons himself is described as beyond homely; Mme la presidente is an avaricious social climber; Schmucke is an aptly named dolt; Mme Cibot is a greedy opportunist. Still, I am glad I read this book just as a reminder that although the law of the land had granted Jews citizenship only about 60 years before this book was written, one cannot legislate the prejudices of the people. And France is notoriously antisemitic even in our own day.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    A superb dark comedy, companion piece to Cousin Bette. Sylvain Pons is a dear old man, a musician and a poor relation of a titled family, to whom he repairs for gourmet dinners, and by whom he is regularly insulted and disparaged. Pons' overarching interest is picking up valuable antiques for a song, and he has amassed an amazing collection, which live in the flat he shares with devoted, childlike fellow musician, the German Schmucke. And which is presided over by the rapacious concierge, Mme Cib A superb dark comedy, companion piece to Cousin Bette. Sylvain Pons is a dear old man, a musician and a poor relation of a titled family, to whom he repairs for gourmet dinners, and by whom he is regularly insulted and disparaged. Pons' overarching interest is picking up valuable antiques for a song, and he has amassed an amazing collection, which live in the flat he shares with devoted, childlike fellow musician, the German Schmucke. And which is presided over by the rapacious concierge, Mme Cibot... When Pons falls ill; when those in the vicinity come to realise his 'bric a brac' is worth a mint, and when numerous others get involved...a corrupt doctor and his equally dodgy solicitor chum, the titled relatives who hope to inherit...and certain more lowly locals...a complex web unfolds. Numerous laugh-out-loud observations on life and personalities

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mshelton50

    Cousin Pons is a moderately successful musician. Over the years, he's used his modest income to amass an impressive collection of objets d'art. He has only one relative, a well connected cousin, Camusot de Marville (who in turn has a grasping wife and young marriageable daughter), and one friend, a German and fellow musician, Schmucke. After M. Pons has a falling out with his cousin, his health begins to fail, thus setting in motion a furious--and very unscrupulous--scramble to get hold of his q Cousin Pons is a moderately successful musician. Over the years, he's used his modest income to amass an impressive collection of objets d'art. He has only one relative, a well connected cousin, Camusot de Marville (who in turn has a grasping wife and young marriageable daughter), and one friend, a German and fellow musician, Schmucke. After M. Pons has a falling out with his cousin, his health begins to fail, thus setting in motion a furious--and very unscrupulous--scramble to get hold of his quite valuable art collection. Balzac is at his best here, describing greedy types, high and low. If you liked Cousine Bette (the companion piece to Cousin Pons) or Père Goriot, you'll love this novel, as I did.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sunjay

    I've been lucky to have Balzac show me the ropes throughout my life. Lost Illusions warned me off a career in journalism and get rich quick schemes. Old Goriot showed me how society preys upon the elderly for cash to finance its own grand ventures. Eugenie Grandet - beware those who want to marry you for your money. So it's only fitting that Cousin Pons, Balzac's last major work, gives me a heads up on how the unsuspecting get screwed making funeral arrangements and inheriting an estate. With a I've been lucky to have Balzac show me the ropes throughout my life. Lost Illusions warned me off a career in journalism and get rich quick schemes. Old Goriot showed me how society preys upon the elderly for cash to finance its own grand ventures. Eugenie Grandet - beware those who want to marry you for your money. So it's only fitting that Cousin Pons, Balzac's last major work, gives me a heads up on how the unsuspecting get screwed making funeral arrangements and inheriting an estate. With a mix of cool headed practicality and a heart that bristles at the outrage of a society based on economic exchange, Balzac remains for me an education in life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    How on earth do you rate a book that you loved because it was so well done, and hated because of the injustice? I decided to be objective and not care so much about the old nutcrackers. It's packed full of mostly dreadful people, La Cibot is a gem - I think I am less bothered by his evil peasants than by his evil aristocrats. I loved most of all how he stepped outside the story to address the reader, confident that the reader has read all the preceding books in La Comedie Humaine! Some enterpris How on earth do you rate a book that you loved because it was so well done, and hated because of the injustice? I decided to be objective and not care so much about the old nutcrackers. It's packed full of mostly dreadful people, La Cibot is a gem - I think I am less bothered by his evil peasants than by his evil aristocrats. I loved most of all how he stepped outside the story to address the reader, confident that the reader has read all the preceding books in La Comedie Humaine! Some enterprise....you will lose a lot of nuances , though, if you are not familiar with his main earlier works.

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