Cousin Pons

Cousin Pons

by Honoré de Balzac

Mild, harm and ugly to behold, the impoverished Pons is an ageing musician whose brief fame has fallen to nothing.

Taking its place in the Human Comedy as a companion to Cousin Bette, the darkly humorous Cousin Pons is among of the last and greatest of Balzac's novels concerning French urban society: a cynical, pessimistic but never despairing consideration of human nature.

  • Series: La Comédie Humaine
  • Language: English
  • Category: Classics
  • Rating: 3.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publish Date: May 25th 1978 by Penguin Classics
  • Isbn10: 0140442057
  • Isbn13: 9780140442052

What People Think about "Cousin Pons"

Despite that, there is Pons and his faithful Schmucke. Read Jim Paris' review

Più Balzac di così si muore Si tratta di una delle ultime opere scritte da Balzac, che può ritenersi come un sunto dei temi delle sue opere letterarie e, di fondo, della sua visione del mondo.

This starts off strongly, just as I might expect with Balzac. He was cash poor, perhaps, but had become a collector of small items of art, and those had appreciated immensely. Was it truly a slog or was I just not in the right frame of mind for Balzac? I often expect Balzac to have a somewhat surprising ending and one with a decided bit of irony.

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. Few novels hold up as well to repeated readings.

I have jumped around quite a bit while reading Balzacs The Human Comedy, starting with The Unknown Masterpiece and Gambara, and then going back to what is probably his best known work, Père Goriot. I think that my next ambitious literary reading endeavor is to immerse myself in the entirety of Balzacs Human Comedy, that immense and impressive collection of nearly 100 works. What I have noticed in Balzacs 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. And though writing was likely Balzacs main purpose, his affection for gastronomic pleasures was probably at times of great import.

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... ...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.

His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience. Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule.