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About the Author: Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous authors, including the novelists Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James and Jack Kerouac, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.

An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting himself to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life, and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business. When he finished school, Balzac was apprenticed as a legal clerk, but he turned his back on law after wearying of its inhumanity and banal routine. Before and during his career as a writer, he attempted to be a publisher, printer, businessman, critic, and politician. He failed in all of these efforts. La Comédie Humaine reflects his real-life difficulties, and includes scenes from his own experience.

Balzac suffered from health problems throughout his life, possibly due to his intense writing schedule. His relationship with his family was often strained by financial and personal drama, and he lost more than one friend over critical reviews. In 1850, he married Ewelina Hańska, his longtime paramour; he died five months later.


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Goodreads rating: 3.65

Paperback, Published in May 2008 by Book Jungle

ISBN10: 1605976385 | ISBN13: 9781605976389

Page count: 48

Ostensibly a tale of sexual androgyny, the power of love, and its bitter aftermath, this volume is in fact a study of the force of art on society and the deadly immortality of beauty. The nameless narrator attends a ball held by a wealthy Parisian family whose fortune comes from a work of art, and there meets an extraordinary old woman who bears a strange resemblance to the statue depicted in the painting. He returns to his lodgings to tell the tragic, yet ultimately rewarding tale of the creation of the painting's inspiration: a tale of passion, lust, and transexuality, in which music and art, their powers combined, are fatally attracted.

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