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The Girl With the Golden Eyes
ISBN 0786705612 / 9780786705610 / 0-7867-0561-2
Publisher Carroll & Graf Pub
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This classic étude of the Parisian underworld from Balzac's History of the Thirteen trilogy was considered shocking in its day, and inspired a host of bad-boy poets and artists from Baudelaire to Swinburne to Balthus. The story still provides a jolt of naturalistic cruelty in its glib concluding lines, but its orientalism, emotional detachment, and paradoxical twist make it as much a portrait of Parisian manners of the mid-19th century as a study of one man's infatuation with a woman of impossible beauty and innocence. The fops and downtrodden workers and complacent petite bourgeoisie of the period are all present--gambling or saving or scheming--oblivious to the erotic servitude concealed behind the walls of one of the finest mansions on the Rue Saint-Lazare. When Henri de Marsay, the pampered and decadent heir of Lord Dudley, is led blindfolded to an assignation with the woman he most covets, he finds that his hated rival is his true brother--or, rather, sister--in vice. --Regina Marler [via]