'What holds sway over this country without morals, beliefs, or feelings? Gold and pleasure.'
Sexual attraction, artistic insight, and the often ironic relationship between them is the dominant theme in the three short works collected in this volume. In Sarrasine an impetuous young sculptor falls in love with a diva of the Roman stage, but rapture turns to rage when he discovers the reality behind the seductiveness of the singer's voice. The ageing artist in The Unknown Masterpiece, obsessed with his creation of the perfect image of an ideal woman, tries to hide it
from the jealous young student who is desperate for a glimpse of it. And in The Girl with the Golden Eyes, the hero is a dandy whose attractiveness for the mysterious Paquita has an unexpected origin.
These enigmatic and disturbing forays into the margins of madness, sexuality, and creativity show Balzac spinning fantastic tales as profound as any of his longer fictions. His mastery of the seductions of storytelling places these novellas among the nineteenth-century's richest explorations of art and desire.
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