The Magic Skin by Honoré de Balzac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book by Balzac is quite good but it pretty much tops me up and out of wanting to read more by him.
Not that it's bad, mind you. It's really quite wonderful when I think about it.
It starts out with a gambling addiction resulting in a desire to kill himself, but then he comes across this strange individual who offers him what appears to be a cursed item. (Yes, realism, no one really disputes that magic happens back then. The wild ass's skin works simply. You can shorten your life but get wonderful things. Kinda like the Monkey's Paw, but totally worldly and not always that evil. :) Riches, women... the whole thing reads with a very familiar theme from Cousin Bette.
Death and Life always in opposition, and both these novels presage Freud.
Ennui, satisfaction ending in boredom and the ever need to drive oneself forward. The alternative is all the crap that makes generally happy folk kinda self-destruct. Art plays a big role here, as does sex and money.
It's quite fascinating for what it is and I am REALLY glad I don't live in France during this time. I think I would hate just about everything. :) But this is a really interesting novel, for all that.
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