Honore De Balzac

Easton Press Honore De Balzac books

Old Goriot - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1993
Eugenie Grandet - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1998

Franklin Library Honore De Balzac books

Pere Goriot - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1977
Droll Stories - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers - 1978
Pere Goriot - World's Best Loved Books - 1980
Pere Goriot - Oxford Library of The World's Greatest Books - 1982

Who was Honore De Balzac?

Honore De Balzac, (1799-1850), was a French novelist, born in Tours, and educated at a school of the Oratorian Order in Vendome. At his father's insistence, he studied law in Paris from 1818 to 1821. After being licensed to practice law, he chose to embark on a literary career despite his fathers objections. From 1822 to 1829 he turned out bad plays and melodramatic novels which showed very little promise. Honore De Balzac ventured into the publishing and printing business in 1825. For three tears he struggled to make a success of it, but when he finally withdrew he had incurred debts which were to plague him the rest of his life.

In 1829 Honore De Balzac produced his first important novel, Le Dernier Chouan, later called Les Chouwans, a story based on the struggle in Brittany between the Royalist and Republicans during the French Revolution. Although the novel retained some of the faults of his earlier works, it was far superior in quality and signalled Balzac's maturation as a writer. An indefatigable worker, he produced about 95 novels and many short stories, plays, and journalistic pieces within the next twenty years.

In the dimly lit streets of 19th-century Paris, Honore de Balzac, a literary giant, crafted a narrative tapestry that would immortalize him as one of the most prolific and insightful writers of his time. Born on May 20, 1799, in Tours, France, Balzac's life unfolded as a tale of relentless ambition, creative fervor, and an unwavering commitment to capturing the intricate nuances of society. Balzac's journey into the literary world began with fervent idealism and dreams of literary glory. His initial forays into writing, however, met with limited success, leading him down paths of journalistic pursuits and financial struggles. It wasn't until the 1829 publication of his novel Les Chouans that Balzac's literary star began to ascend.

In 1834 Honore De Balzac conceived the idea welding his novels, completed and projected, into one mammoth continuum entitled La Comedie Humaine.

The defining opus of Balzac's literary oeuvre is the panoramic work La Comédie Humaine (The Human Comedy). This vast tapestry, consisting of over ninety interconnected novels and stories, sought to encapsulate the entire spectrum of French society. From the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, from the emerging middle class to the destitute, Balzac meticulously painted a portrait of a rapidly evolving world.

The characters in Balzac's literary universe became archetypes of human nature. Eugène de Rastignac, the ambitious law student; Eugénie Grandet, the tragic heiress; and the indomitable Vautrin, a criminal mastermind—all populated the pages of Balzac's works, breathing life into the social fabric of post-revolutionary France. Balzac's writing style is marked by a rich tapestry of detail, a keen psychological insight, and an acute awareness of the economic and social forces shaping his era. His obsession with portraying the intricate web of human desire, ambition, and societal structures led him to produce masterpieces like Eugénie Grandet, Lost Illusions, and Père Goriot. Yet, Balzac's literary ambitions were not without personal cost. His relentless work habits, fueled by copious amounts of coffee, led to health issues and financial struggles. Undeterred, Balzac persisted, often writing through the night in a candle-lit frenzy, churning out the tales that would collectively become The Human Comedy.

Balzac, however, met an untimely end. He passed away on August 18, 1850, leaving some works unfinished and a legacy that would endure through the ages. His impact on literature extended beyond his time, influencing writers like Marcel Proust and Emile Zola. Balzac's exploration of the complexities of human nature and society remains a testament to the enduring power of literature to capture the essence of the human experience. As the pages of The Human Comedy continue to be turned by readers across the world, Balzac's narrative lives on, immortalized in the literary tapestry he wove with such meticulous artistry.


Père Goriot - La Comédie Humaine Book 23

Père Goriot is the tragic story of a father whose obsessive love for his two daughters leads to his financial and personal ruin. Interwoven with this theme is that of the impoverished young aristocrat, Rastignac, who came to Paris from the provinces to hopefully make his fortune. He befriends Goriot and becomes involved with the daughters. The story is set against the background of a whole society driven by social ambition and lust for wealth.

Eugénie Grandet - La Comédie Humaine Book 30

"Who is going to marry Eugenie Grandet?"

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.

The Droll Stories

“A faithful picture of the last days of the moyen age, when kings and princesses, brave gentlemen and haughty ladies laughed openly at stories and jokes which are considered disgraceful by their more fastidious descendants.”

Droll Stories is a celebrated collection of 30 humorous short stories by French author Honoré de Balzac. Also known as Les Contes Drolatiques , these works were originally published in two separate volumes in 1832 and 1837.

Imitating the style of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and inspired by the works of François Rabelais, Balzac here intended to paint a vivid picture of 16th century France, its life and manners. An established classic of French literature, this collection makes for an unmissable read.

Then by us have these words been said to her: "My daughter, you are vehemently suspected to have had recourse to the devil from the manner in which you left the convent, which was supernatural in every way." By her who speaks has it been stated, that she at that time gained naturally the fields by the street door after vespers, enveloped in the robes of Jehan de Marsilis, visitor of the convent, who had hidden her, the person speaking, in a little hovel belonging to him, situated in the Cupidon Lane, near a tower in the town.

Honore De Balzac quotes

"The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness."
"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
"The more one judges, the less one loves."
"Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine."
"Love is a game in which one always cheats."
"The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been found out, because it was properly executed."
"Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact."
"Our worst misfortunes never happen, and most miseries lie in anticipation."
"The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin."

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