Scenes from a Courtesan's Life

Honoré de BALZAC (1799 - 1850), translated by Ellen MARRIAGE (1865 - 1946)

Scenes from a Courtesan's Life is one of the last great works completed by Balzac for his huge novel series entitled The Human Comedy. Sections of this book, in various groupings and with various titles, were published between 1838 and 1847. It eventually settled into the four sections found in the present edition. The French title — Splendeurs et misères des courtesanes — literally, Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans — has also been translated as A Harlot High and Low. The story picks up at the end of Lost Illusions (1843), an earlier novel by Balzac. At the end of that book, Lucien de Rubempré (born Lucien Chardon), a young provincial poet with great ambitions but feeble moral will, was heading for Paris in the company of a mysterious Spanish priest. In the present book, we quickly discover that the "Spanish priest" is actually Jacques Collin, alias "Vautrin," a master criminal first introduced to readers in Balzac's Father Goriot (1835). Lucien develops a relationship with Esther van Gobseck, a prostitute (the "courtesan" of the title). With these three main figures — Lucien, Vautrin, and Esther — Balzac explores the corruption of the aristocracy, the world of prostitution, the courts, and the prisons of 19th-century Paris. With masterful depictions of society and individual psychology, Balzac is considered a father of realism in fiction. - Summary by Bruce Pirie

The Balzac Lost Illusions trilogy preceding this book:
Lost Illusions: Two Poets
Lost Illusions: A Distinguished Provincial at Paris
Lost Illusions: Ève and David

Genre(s): Literary Fiction, Published 1800 -1900

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 Esther Happy - 1 Bruce Pirie
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Play 02 Esther Happy - 2 Bruce Pirie
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Play 03 Esther Happy - 3 Bruce Pirie
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Play 04 Esther Happy - 4 Bruce Pirie
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Play 05 Esther Happy - 5 Bruce Pirie
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Play 06 Esther Happy - 6 Bruce Pirie
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Play 07 Esther Happy - 7 Bruce Pirie
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Play 08 Esther Happy - 8 Bruce Pirie
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Play 09 Esther Happy - 9 Bruce Pirie
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Play 10 Esther Happy - 10 Bruce Pirie
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Play 11 Esther Happy - 11 Bruce Pirie
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Play 12 Esther Happy - 12 Bruce Pirie
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Play 13 Esther Happy - 13 Bruce Pirie
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Play 14 Esther Happy - 14 Bruce Pirie
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Play 15 Esther Happy - 15 Bruce Pirie
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Play 16 Esther Happy - 16 Bruce Pirie
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Play 17 Esther Happy - 17 Bruce Pirie
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Play 18 Esther Happy - 18 Bruce Pirie
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Play 19 Esther Happy - 19 Bruce Pirie
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Play 20 Esther Happy - 20 Bruce Pirie
00:09:08
Play 21 What Love Costs an Old Man - 1 Bruce Pirie
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Play 22 What Love Costs an Old Man - 2 Bruce Pirie
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Play 23 What Love Costs an Old Man - 3 Bruce Pirie
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Play 24 What Love Costs an Old Man - 4 Bruce Pirie
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Play 25 What Love Costs an Old Man - 5 Bruce Pirie
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Play 26 What Love Costs an Old Man - 6 Bruce Pirie
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Play 27 What Love Costs an Old Man - 7 Bruce Pirie
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Play 28 What Love Costs an Old Man - 8 Bruce Pirie
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Play 29 What Love Costs an Old Man - 9 Bruce Pirie
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Play 30 What Love Costs an Old Man - 10 Bruce Pirie
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Play 31 What Love Costs an Old Man - 11 Bruce Pirie
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Play 32 What Love Costs an Old Man - 12 Bruce Pirie
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Play 33 What Love Costs an Old Man - 13 Bruce Pirie
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Play 34 What Love Costs an Old Man - 14 Bruce Pirie
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Play 35 What Love Costs an Old Man - 15 Bruce Pirie
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Play 36 What Love Costs an Old Man - 16 Bruce Pirie
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Play 37 What Love Costs an Old Man - 17 Bruce Pirie
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Play 38 The End of Evil Ways - 1 Bruce Pirie
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Play 39 The End of Evil Ways - 2 Bruce Pirie
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Play 40 The End of Evil Ways - 3 Bruce Pirie
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Play 41 The End of Evil Ways - 4 Bruce Pirie
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Play 42 The End of Evil Ways - 5 Bruce Pirie
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Play 43 The End of Evil Ways - 6 Bruce Pirie
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Play 44 The End of Evil Ways - 7 Bruce Pirie
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Play 45 The End of Evil Ways - 8 Bruce Pirie
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Play 46 The End of Evil Ways - 9 Bruce Pirie
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Play 47 The End of Evil Ways - 10 Bruce Pirie
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Play 48 The End of Evil Ways - 11 Bruce Pirie
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Play 49 The End of Evil Ways - 12 Bruce Pirie
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Play 50 The End of Evil Ways - 13 Bruce Pirie
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Play 51 The End of Evil Ways - 14 Bruce Pirie
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Play 52 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 1 Bruce Pirie
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Play 53 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 2 Bruce Pirie
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Play 54 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 3 Bruce Pirie
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Play 55 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 4 Bruce Pirie
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Play 56 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 5 Bruce Pirie
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Play 58 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 7 Bruce Pirie
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Play 60 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 9 Bruce Pirie
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Play 61 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 10 Bruce Pirie
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Play 62 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 11 Bruce Pirie
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Play 63 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 12 Bruce Pirie
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Play 64 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 13 Bruce Pirie
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Play 65 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 14 Bruce Pirie
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Play 66 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 15 Bruce Pirie
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Play 67 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 16 Bruce Pirie
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Play 68 Vautrin's Last Avatar - 17 Bruce Pirie
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