Novel from Honoré de Balzac, finished in 1831. Part of "La comédie humaine", it is a story about desire and greed.
It is the story of a men who bought a old relic from an arab merchant. The relic has the power to accomplish every wish (litterally EVERY wish) that the man has. But, (since there is a but) the relic (la peau de chagrin, litteraly meaning "the skin of sadness") will shrink every time it will accomplish a wish, to eventually disapear. The deal is that the guy is suppose to die when the relic disapear, so he decide to stop wanting anything and trie to live without any desire.
All the novel is about desire and the legitimacy
of it, a theme that Balzac particularly like. The question behind all the novel is; "Is it possible to live without desire?"