A Blupete Biography Page

Honoré de Balzac

Said to be the greatest of French novelists, Balzac, trained as a lawyer, was a great judge of human nature. As a young man "he steeped himself in Scott's novels."

"Balzac may be justly compared with Dickens for humour, but Dickens was broader in caricature; with Thackeray for satire, but Thackeray was keener; with Meredith for analysis, but Meredith was more subtle; with Poe for imagination, but Poe was more fantastic; with Swift for cynicism, but Swift was more caustic; with Defoe for realistic narrative, but Defoe surpassed him in verisimilitude; with Scott for vivid description of nature and of men, but Scott was his master as well as his model."1

Balzac was a writer who was obliged to produce for a living, and, thus, he wrote many books (he wrote 92 novels); if you have room for two on your shelf, then, in addition to an anthology of his short stories, I would recomend Balzac's Pere Goriot (1834) and his Cousin Bette (1846), "The Limburger cheese of literature."2

Balzac's Beliefs:

§ "The viaticum of married life is resignation and self-sacrifice; the bonds of habit, he [Balzac] says, are better than love any day, while society substitutes a lasting sentiment for the mere passing frenzy of nature and creates the family as the foundation of all organized society. In short, in marriage the woman inspires, and the man must do the work, the woman must sacrifice her will, the man his selfishness."
§ He [Balzac] believed in a constitutional monarchy and an aristocracy of the feudal type; aristocracy, he said, was the intellect of the social system. He wrote a pamphlet in favor of primogeniture, and he did not believe in 'the rights of man,' human equality, or the ability of the masses of the people to govern themselves. One man should have the power to make laws."
The Catholic Church:
§ It is "a complete system for the repression of the depraved tenancies of mankind," much better, he added, than "the cold negations of Protestantism."

1 John Marshall Gest, The Lawyers in Literature (Boston: The Boston Book Co., 1913).

2 Gest, op. cit. Balzac's works are readily available on the 'NET .

3 Gest, op. cit.


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Peter Landry