“Gobsek” Balzac in brief summary

The story of usurer Gobsek, the solicitor Dervil tells in the cabin of the viscountess de Grandlieu – one of the most distinguished and wealthy ladies in the aristocratic Saint-Germain suburb. Once in the winter of 1829-30, two guests sat by her: the young handsome Count Ernest de Resto and Derville, who was accepted simply because he helped the mistress of the house to return the property confiscated during the Revolution.

When Ernest leaves, the viscountess utters the daughter Camilla: one should not be so frankly showing favor to a lovely count, for no decent family will agree to be related to him because of his mother. Although now she behaves flawlessly, but in her youth caused a lot of gossip. In addition, she is of low origin – her father was the grain merchant Gorio. But worst of all, she squandered the fortune on her lover, leaving the children without a penny. Count Ernest de Resto is poor, and therefore not a pair of Camilla de Granlie.


sympathizing with lovers, intervenes in the conversation, wishing to explain to the viscountess the true state of affairs. He starts from afar: in his student years he had to live in a cheap boarding house – there he got acquainted with Gobsek. Even then it was a deep old man of very remarkable appearance – with a “lunar face”, yellow, like a ferret’s eyes, a sharp long nose and thin lips. His victims sometimes lost their temper, cried or threatened, but the moneylender always kept his composure – it was a “man-bill”, “golden idol.” Of all the neighbors, he maintained relations only with Derville, who once revealed the mechanism of his power over people – the world is ruled by gold, and gold is owned by the usurer. For edification, he talks about how to recover a debt from a noble lady – fearing exposure, this countess did not hesitate to hand him a diamond, because the lover received money on her bill. Gobsek guessed the future of the countess on the face of a fair-haired beauty – this dandy, a moth and a player is capable of ruining the whole

After graduating from law, Derville received the post of senior clerk in the attorney’s office. In the winter of 1818-1919, he was forced to sell his patent – and asked for him one hundred and fifty thousand francs. Gobsek lent the young neighbor money, taking from him “for friendship” only thirteen percent – usually he took no less than fifty. At the cost of hard work, Derville managed to get even with his debt in five years.

Once the brilliant dandy Count Maxim de Tray urged Derville to bring him down with Gobsek, but the usurer flatly refused to give a loan to a man who had debts of three hundred thousand, and for a soul or centime. At that moment the carriage drove up to the house, the Count de Tray rushed to the exit and returned with an extraordinarily beautiful lady – as described by Dervilus at once recognized in her that countess who issued the bill four years ago. This time, she gave away the magnificent diamonds. Dervil tried to prevent the deal, but as soon as Maxim hinted that he was going to settle accounts with life, how the unfortunate woman agreed to the bondage terms of the loan.

After the departure of lovers, the Countess’s husband rushed in to Gobsek with a demand to return the mortgage – his wife had no right to dispose of family jewelry. Derville managed to settle the matter with peace, and the grateful usurer gave the advice to the council: to transfer all his property to a reliable friend through a fictitious bargain deal – this is the only way to save even the children from ruin. A few days later the count came to Dervil to find out what kind of opinion of Gobsek. The solicitor replied that in the event of an untimely death, he would not be afraid to make Gobsek the guardian of his children, for in this miser and philosopher there live two beings – vile and sublime. The Count immediately decided to give Gobsek all the rights to the property, wishing to save him from his wife and her greedy lover.

Taking advantage of the pause in the conversation, the viscountess sends her daughter to bed – a virtuous girl does not need to know to what extent a woman who has crossed certain boundaries can reach. After leaving Camilla, there is no need to hide names – the story is about the Countess de Resto. Dervil, without receiving a counter receipt on the fictitiousness of the transaction, learns that the Count de Resto is seriously ill. The countess, feeling a dirty trick, is doing her best to prevent the solicitor from going to her husband. The denouement begins in December 1824. By this time the Countess had already ascertained the baseness of Maxim de Tray and had broken with him. She is so jealous of her dying husband that many tend to forgive her previous sins – in fact, she, like a predatory beast, lies in wait for its prey. The Count, unable to meet Derville, wants to give the documents to his eldest son – but his wife cuts off this way, too, trying to caress the boy. In the last terrible scene, the Countess prays for forgiveness, but the Count remains adamant. The same night, he dies, and the next day the house is Gobsek and Dervil. Their eyes are presented with an eerie sight: in search of a will the countess made a real rout in the office, not ashamed even of the dead. Hearing the strangers’ steps, she throws the papers addressed to Dervil into the fire-the Count’s property thereby undividedly passes into the possession of Gobsek

The moneylender has rented out a detached mansion, and summer began to spend in a lordly manner – in his new estates. To all Dervil’s entreaties to take pity on the repentant countess and her children, he answered that misfortune was the best teacher. Let Ernest de Resto know the price of people and money – then you can return it to the state. Learning of the love of Ernest and Camilla, Derville once again went to Gobsek and found the old man at death. All his wealth old miser bequeathed to his great-granddaughter – a public maiden nicknamed “Ogonek.” To his executor Dervil he instructed to dispose of the accumulated provisions – and the solicitor really discovered huge reserves of rotten pate, moldy fish, rotten coffee. By the end of his life, Gobsek’s avarice turned into a mania – he did not sell anything, afraid of cheating. In conclusion, that Ernest de Resto will soon find the lost condition. The viscountess replies that the young earl must be very rich – only in this case he can marry Mademoiselle de Granlie. However, Camilla does not have to see her mother-in-law, although the entrance to the countess is not ordered – after all, they took her in Madame de Bosean’s house.

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“Gobsek” Balzac in brief summary