A kindhearted and idealistic youth enters the grasping Parisian society of the 1820s, starting at a shabby but respectable boardinghouse, the Pension Vauquer. Eugène de Rastignac has arrived in the glittering capital to make his fortune, and his friendships with the pension's other residents introduce him to the realities and costs of city life. Père Goriot — one of the outstanding novels in The Human Comedy, Balzac's panoramic study of Parisian life — features richly detailed settings, a skillfully related plot, and a vibrant cast of characters. Young Rastignac's acquaintance with the elderly widower Goriot, a formerly wealthy merchant impoverished by the demands of his fashionable daughters, lies at the heart of this story of love and greed. Acclaimed by critic Leslie Stephen as "the modern King Lear," Père Goriot offers a timeless view of the tragedies behind the prosaic details of everyday life.