Honore de Balzac, Vol. 4 of 25 Cover Image

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.

Other books by Honoré de Balzac

Honore de Balzac, Vol. 4 of 25 Cover Image

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Beatrix; The Atheist's Mass; Honorine; Colonel Chabert; The Commission in Lunacy; Pierre Grassou (Classic Reprint) by

Paperback, Published in Jul 2016 by Forgotten Books

ISBN10: 1333051123 | ISBN13: 9781333051129

Page count: 646

Excerpt from Honore De Balzac, Vol. 4 of 25: The First Complete Translation Into English; Beatrix; The Atheist's Mass; Honorine; Colonel Chabert; The Commission in Lunacy; Pierre Grassou
The key-interest of books, however, is always a minor, and sometimes a purely illegitimate one. It ought to be sufficient for us that the interest of the quartet, even if there had been no such persons as George Sand, Daniel Stern, Planche, and Liszt in the world, would be very great, and that it is well composed with and maintained by the accessory and auxiliary facts and characters. The picture of the Guenie household (which, after Balzac's usual fash ion, throws us back to Lee Chouans, while Beatrix as a Casteran, and thus a connection of the luckless Mlle. De Ver neuil, is also connected with that book) may seem to some to be a little too fully painted; it does not seem so to me. Whether, as hinted above, the character of Calyste has its childishness exaggerated or not, I must leave to readers to decide for themselves. His casting of Beatrix into the sea, besides being illegal, may seem to some extravagant; but it must be remembered that Balzac was originally writing when the heyday of the Romantic movement was by no means over, and when Melodrama was still pretty fully in fashion. It is difficult, too, to see what better contrast and uniting scheme for the contrasted worldlinesses of the four chief characters could have been devised; while the childishness itself is not inconceivable or unnatural in a boy brought up in a sort of household of romance by a heroic father and a doting mother, both utterly unworldly, his head being further fired by par ticipation in actual civil war on behalf of an injured princess, and his heart exposed without preparation to such dlf'ferent in uences as those of Mlle. Des Touches and of Beatrix.
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