The Elixir of Life
By Honore de Balzac
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The Elixir of Life is a fantastic tale by the French novelist and writer Honoré de Balzac in which he gives his own version of the legend of Don Juan that many other writers and poets dealt with, including the English Lord Byron. Balzac's appraisal of the legend is generally satirical as he presents a rather negative image of the protagonist. In fact, Balzac's Don Juan is an arrogant and egoist character who indulges heedlessly in all sorts of sinful behavior. The opening scene depicts Don Juan and a princely friend who are celebrating in the company of seven young ladies. He speaks to his companions about his aged father and insinuates that he is impatiently waiting for his death to inherit his great wealth. The fantastic element is introduced in Balzac's story when the readers are informed of the presence of a phial containing a liquid that could bring the dead back to life. Don Juan's father asks his son to pour the liquid on him once he dies, yet the son decides not to resurrect his father and keeps the phial for himself. To his misfortune, when his own son starts covering him with the liquid, an accident happens and he is not completely resurrected.