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About Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac (/ˈbɔːlzæk, ˈbæl-/; French: [ɔ.nɔ.ʁe d(ə) bal.zak], born Honoré Balzac, 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Owing 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 writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac and Henry James, 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 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 in a law office, but he turned his back on the study of 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, Balzac married Ewelina Hańska, a Polish aristocrat and his longtime love; he died in Paris five months later.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Louis-Auguste Bisson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
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Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature.
Balzac sought to present his characters as real people, neither fully good nor fully evil, but completely human. His labyrinthine city provided a literary model used later by English novelist Charles Dickens and Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The novel sequence La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus..
An original illustration.
The Human Comedy
THE HISTORY OF 'LA COMEDIE HUMAINE'
Rue Nationale, Tours, today
STUDIES OF MANNERS IN THE 19TH CENTURY
The short stories
Women in the Life of Balzak
This is the question that fills the minds of the inhabitants of Saumur, the setting for Eugenie Grandet (1833), one of the earliest and most famous novels in Balzac's Comedie humaine. The Grandet household, oppressed by the exacting miserliness of Grandet himself, is jerked violently out of routine by the sudden arrival of Eugenie's cousin Charles, recently orphaned and penniless. Eugenie's emotional awakening, stimulated by her love for her cousin, brings her into direct conflict with her father, whose cunning and financial success are matched against her determination to rebel.
Eugenie's moving story is set against the backdrop of provincial oppression, the vicissitudes of the wine trade, and the workings of the financial system in the aftermath of the French Revolution. It is both a poignant portrayal of private life and a vigorous fictional document of its age.
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Balzac's life and works
* Concise introductions to the novels and other works
* The COMPLETE ‘La Comédie humaine’ in English translation
* The whole series is precisely organised into Balzac's plan
* Includes Balzac’s introduction AVANT-PROPOS
* Images of how the books were first printed, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Famous works such as FATHER GORIOT, COUSIN BETTY, THE MAGIC SKIN and many more are illustrated with their original artwork
* Balzac’s five plays
* Criticism section, with seven essays by writers such as Henry James and Leslie Stephen, evaluating Balzac’s contribution to literature
* Features five biographies - discover in depth Balzac's literary life!
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
* Special CHARACTERS resource, with information on all members of the cast of ‘La Comédie humaine’, with references to the novels and stories they appear in
THE HUMAN COMEDY
THE HISTORY OF ‘LA COMÉDIE HUMAINE’
STUDIES OF MANNERS IN THE 19TH CENTURY
Scenes from Private Life
AT THE SIGN OF THE CAT AND RACKET
THE BALL AT SCEAUX
LETTERS OF TWO BRIDES
A START IN LIFE
A SECOND HOME
STUDY OF A WOMAN
THE IMAGINARY MISTRESS
A DAUGHTER OF EVE
THE GRAND BRETECHE
THE DESERTED WOMAN
A WOMAN OF THIRTY
THE ATHEIST’S MASS
THE COMMISSION IN LUNACY
THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT
ANOTHER STUDY OF WOMAN
Scenes from Provincial Life
THE VICAR OF TOURS
THE TWO BROTHERS
Parisians in the Country
THE ILLUSTRIOUS GAUDISSART
THE MUSE OF THE DEPARTMENT
The Jealousies of a Country Town
THE OLD MAID
THE COLLECTION OF ANTIQUITIES
A DISTINGUISHED PROVINCIAL AT PARIS
EVE AND DAVID
Scenes from Parisian Life
THE DUCHESSE DE LANGEAIS
GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN EYES
RISE AND FALL OF CÉSAR BIROTTEAU
THE FIRM OF NUCINGEN
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
ESTHER HAPPY: HOW A COURTESAN CAN LOVE
WHAT LOVE COSTS AN OLD MAN
THE END OF EVIL WAYS
VAUTRIN’S LAST AVATAR
SECRETS OF THE PRINCESSE DE CADIGNAN
The Poor Relations
A MAN OF BUSINESS
A PRINCE OF BOHEMIA
THE LESSER BOURGEOISIE
The Seamy Side of History
MADAME DE LA CHANTERIE
Scenes from Political Life
AN EPISODE UNDER THE TERROR
AN HISTORICAL MYSTERY
The Deputy of Arcis
MONSIEUR DE SALLENAUVE
studente Eugène de Rastignac viene iniziato ai segreti del bel mondo. Ospite
della pensione di madame Vauquer, scopre l'ipocrisia che si cela dappertutto,
dietro l'amicizia, l'amore, la pietà, il matrimonio, sotto lo splendore
aristocratico come nella mediocrità borghese. Capisce che il prezzo da pagare
per aver successo è quello di sacrificare i propri ideali e le illusioni
giovanili. Gli serve da lezione la storia del vecchio pastaio Goriot il quale,
rimasto vedovo, aveva fatto tutto il possibile per assicurare, al di là di ogni
ragionevolezza, una vita di agio e ricchezza alle sue due figlie per ritrovarsi
poi a essere il prototipo della vittima in una società priva di affetti
autentici e disinteressati, frivola e ambiziosa. Una società che oscilla tra la
bassezza morale della classe superiore, per la quale anche l'amore non è che
un mezzo per raggiungere il potere, e il cinismo immorale dell'evaso Vautrin,
meglio conosciuto come "Beffa-la-Morte", che a sua volta incarna la
natura demoniaca e ribelle. Una società che non ha più rispetto nemmeno per il
proprio padre. Cesare De Marchi, nella sua traduzione fedele all'originale,
riesce a riprodurre felicemente lo stile disteso, descrittivo, evocativo del
grande romanziere ottocentesco.
"Rastignac, rimasto solo, fece qualche passo verso la parte alta del
cimitero e vide Parigi adagiata tortuosamente lungo le due rive della Senna,
dove incominciavano a scintillare le luci. I suoi occhi si fissarono quasi
avidamente tra l'obelisco di place Vendôme e la cupola degli Invalides, là
dove viveva il bel mondo in cui aveva voluto penetrare. Gettò su quell'alveare
ronzante uno sguardo che pareva suggerne fin d'ora il miele, e disse queste
parole grandiose: 'A noi due, adesso!'."
Characters from every corner of society and all walks of life—lords and ladies, businessmen and military men, poor clerks, unforgiving moneylenders, aspiring politicians, artists, actresses, swindlers, misers, parasites, sexual adventurers, crackpots, and more—move through the pages of The Human Comedy, Balzac’s multivolume magnum opus, an interlinked chronicle of modernity in all its splendor and squalor. The Human Comedy includes the great roomy novels that have exercised such a sway over Balzac’s many literary inheritors, from Dostoyevsky and Henry James to Marcel Proust; it also contains an array of short fictions in which Balzac is at his most concentrated and forceful. Nine of these, all newly translated, appear in this volume, and together they provide an unequaled overview of a great writer’s obsessions and art. Here are “The Duchesse de Langeais,” “A Passion in the Desert,” and “Sarrasine”; tales of madness, illicit passion, ill-gotten gains, and crime. What unifies them, Peter Brooks points out in his introduction, is an incomparable storyteller’s fascination with the power of storytelling, while throughout we also detect what Proust so admired: the “mysterious circulation of blood and desire.”
Edition enrichie (introduction, notes, dossier de l'oeuvre, chronologie et bibliographie)
« J’ai trouvé une idée merveilleuse. Je serai un homme de génie », s’exclame Balzac au moment où il écrit Le Père Goriot. Il venait d’imaginer La Comédie humaine, ce cycle romanesque dans lequel les mêmes personnages réapparaissent d’un roman à l’autre. Il venait de créer un monde, le monde balzacien.
Les plus beaux romans, dit André Maurois, sont des romans d’apprentissage. Les illusions de la jeunesse s’y heurtent au monde féroce et pourtant plein de délices. L’ amour devient coquetterie, la vertu s’achète, l’argent ruine tout. Seule la passion balzacienne, ici l’amour paternel, résiste, dévorante et implacable. Le Père Goriot est la clef de voûte d’une œuvre géniale.
Edition de Stéphane Vachon.