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Written for serial publication in 1822 under the pseudonym Horace de Saint-Aubin, this Faustian tale by Balzac has never before been available in English. More than a long-lost curiosity by an important writer, "The Centenarian" is also a seminal work of early science fiction, crucial to understanding both the development of the genre and the craft of this great author. Beringheld, a 400-year-old "mad scientist," discovered the fluid necessary to human life, but he must extract the vital fluid of others to enlarge his own powers. Balzac intertwines the mythic and the modern in ways that would prove enormously influential to science fiction. Like Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", this novel bridges the gap that separates alchemy and magic from the practice and problems of science. It is also crucial to an understanding of Balzac's oeuvre, as it anticipates significant themes of power, knowledge, and secrecy. This Wesleyan edition features notes, appendices, and a critical introduction.
Wesleyan University Press
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