Reading Groups

L’Amour fou:

Loving in Balzac’s

Human Comedy


Led by: Harold Augenbraum


Time: 6 - 7:30pm


Meets: Every second Wednesday of the month, four sessions


Dates: Sept. 13, Oct.11, Nov. 8, Dec. 13


Sign up:

Members: $125

Nonmembers: $150



Born in 1799, the prolific novelist Honoré de Balzac created fiction that is marked by having reflected the era of Louis-Philippe, who was known as “The Bourgeois King” (1830-1848). With the fall of the ancien regime, during Balzac’s lifetime wealth shifted from land to capital, which resulted in the evolution of larger-than-life plutocrats, a striving middle class, and struggling peasants (some things never change). He wrote (by his own count) 101 novels. Minor characters in one novel become major ones in another, and vice versa, so that the panorama of his Human Comedy mirrored, with some exaggeration, the ebullient life of his time. We will read four novels. In the fourth, the characters introduced in the first three will come together in one of the most heartfelt works of western literature. Your reading can be in French or English, but the discussions will take place in English.


September 13  Old Goriot (Père Goriot
October 11   Lost Illusions (Illusions perdues)
November 8  Gobseck
December 13             A Harlot, High and Low (Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes)


Harold Augenbraum is currently Acting Editor of The Yale Review, after a semester as Franke Visiting Fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center of Yale University. From 2004 to early 2016, he was Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, and from 1990 to 2004 he was director of The Mercantile Library of New York (now the Center for Fiction). He has published seven books on Latino literature of the United States and has translated, among other works, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Chronicle of the Narváez Expedition and the Filipino novelist José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. In 2012, the University of Texas Press published his co-translation (with Ilan Stavans) of The Plain in Flames by Juan Rulfo and in 2013 Penguin Classics published his edition of the Collected Poems of Marcel Proust.  His most recent book is a translation of J.A. González Sainz’s novel Ojos que no ven (None So Blind), published by Hispabooks in 2016. He has taught U.S. Latino literature at Amherst College, founded the Proust Society of America, and co-chaired, with Susan Shillinglaw, the 2002 National Steinbeck Centennial celebration. He is currently carrying out a research project on the business of translation in the United States under a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2015, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota awarded him the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.