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Encyclopedia > Balzac
Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac (May 20, 1799 - August 18, 1850), was a French novelist.

He was born in Tours, France in the rue de l'Armée Italienne.

In 1849, when his health had broken down, he travelled to Poland to visit Eveline Hanska, a rich Polish lady, with whom he had corresponded for more than 15 years. In 1850 she became his wife, and three months later, Balzac died.

He would become one of the creators of Realism in literature, though his work lies still largely in the tradition of French Literary Romanticism. His Human Comedy (La Comédie humaine) spanned more than 90 novels and short stories in an attempt to comprehend and depict the realities of life in contemporary bourgeois France.

Balzac had legendarily intimidating work habits - he wrote for up to 15 hours a day, fuelled by innumerable cups of black coffee. Because of this extraordinarily large output, many of the novels display minor imperfections and in some cases outright careless writing. Several, however, have achieved a widely-held reputation as masterpieces:

Balzac's realistic prose and his strength as an encyclopedic recorder of his age outshine any small detracting qualities of his style to make him a Dickensian bastion of French literature.

Balzac lies buried in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France. He is commemorated by a monumental statue commissioned from Auguste Rodin.


The Human Comedy

Balzac's works have fallen into the public domain, and a number of them are available online from Project Gutenberg. Balzac undertook a huge project: The Human Comedy, which is a collection of about 100 linked stories and novels. The stories are placed in a variety of settings, with characters reappearing in multiple stories. The Balzac Plan of the Comédie Humaine comprises:

Bust of Balzac by Auguste Rodin, in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Scenes From Private Life

  • At the Sign of the Cat and Racket
  • The Ball at Sceaux
  • The Purse
  • The Vendetta
  • Madame Firmiani
  • A Second Home
  • Domestic Peace
  • The Imaginary Mistress or Paz
  • A Study of Woman
  • Another Study of Woman
  • La Grand Breteche
  • Albert Savarus
  • Letters of Two Brides
  • A Daughter of Eve
  • A Woman of Thirty
  • The Deserted Woman
  • La Grenadiere
  • The Message
  • Gobseck
  • A Marriage Settlement or A Marriage Contract
  • A Start in Life
  • Modeste Mignon
  • Beatrix
  • Honorine
  • Colonel Chabert
  • The Atheist's Mass
  • The Commission in Lunacy
  • Pierre Grassou

Scenes From Provincial Life

  • Ursule Mirouet
  • Eugenie Grandet
  • The Celibates:
    • Pierrette
    • The Vicar of Tours
  • A Bachelor's Establishment
  • The Two Brothers
  • The Black Sheep
  • Parisians in the Country:
    • Gaudissart the Great or The Illustrious Gaudissart
    • The Muse of the Department
  • The Jealousies of a Country Town:
    • The Old Maid
    • The Collection of Antiquities
  • The Lily of the Valley
  • Lost Illusions:--I.
    • The Two Poets
    • A Distinguished Provincial at Paris, Part 1
  • Lost Illusions:--II.
    • A Distinguished Provincial at Paris, Part 2
    • Eve and David

Scenes From Parisian Life

  • Scenes from a Courtesan's Life:
    • Esther Happy
    • What Love Costs an Old Man
    • The End of Evil Ways
    • Vautrin's Last Avatar
  • A Prince of Bohemia
  • A Man of Business
  • Gaudissart II.
  • The Unconscious Humorists or The Unconscious Comedians
  • The Thirteen:
    • Ferragus
    • The Duchesse de Langeais
    • The Girl with the Golden Eyes
  • Father Goriot (Le père Goriot)
  • The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau
  • The Firm of Nucingen
  • The Secrets of a Princess or The Secrets of the Princess Cadignan
  • The Government Clerks
  • Bureaucracy
  • Sarrasine
  • Facine Cane
  • Poor Relations:--I.
    • Cousin Betty
  • Poor Relations:--II.
    • Cousin Pons
  • The Middle Classes or The Lesser Bourgeoise

Scenes From Political Life

  • The Gondreville Mystery or An Historical Mystery
  • An Episode Under the Terror
  • The Seamy Side of History: or The Brotherhood of Consolation:
    • Madame de la Chanterie
    • Initiated or The Initiate
  • Z. Marcas
  • The Member for Arcis or The Deputy for Arcis

Scenes From Military Life

  • The Chouans
  • A Passion in the Desert

Scenes From Country Life

  • The Country Doctor
  • The Country Parson or The Village Rector
  • The Peasantry or Sons of the Soil

Philosophical Studies

  • The Magic Skin
  • The Quest of the Absolute or The Alkahest
  • Christ in Flanders
  • Melmoth Reconciled
  • The Unknown Masterpiece or The Hidden Masterpiece
  • The Hated Son
  • Gambara
  • Massimilla Doni
  • The Maranas or Juana
  • Farewell
  • The Conscript or The Recruit
  • El Verdugo
  • A Seaside Tragedy or A Drama on the Seashore
  • The Red Inn
  • The Elixir of Life
  • Maitre Cornelius
  • About Catherine de' Medici
    • The Calvinist Martyr
    • The Ruggieri's Secret
    • The Two Dreams
  • Louis Lambert
  • The Exiles
  • Seraphita

External links

Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Honoré de Balzac
  • Project Gutenberg editions of Balzac's works (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/author?name=Balzac%2c%20Honore%20de)
  • Full text of the biography Honore de Balzac (http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/3625) by Albert Keim
  • Comprehensive works with dates (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/balzac.htm)

Balzac is also a commune in the Charente département of France.

  Results from FactBites:
Balzac as a Dramatist (1716 words)
Balzac, in the first place, looked upon the drama as a department of literature inferior to that of romance, and somewhat cavalierly condescended to the stage without reckoning on either its possibilities or its limitations.
Balzac was especially a novelist of his own period, and the life of his romances is the life he saw going on around him.
This antipathy is exaggerated by Balzac into murderous hatred, and is the indirect cause of death to the General's daughter, Pauline, and her lover, the son of a soldier of the First Empire, who, by deserting Napoleon, had fallen under the Comte de Grandchamp's ban.
Honoré de Balzac - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1627 words)
With public acclaim and the assurance of publication, Balzac's subsequent novels began to shape themselves into a broad canvas depicting the turbulent unfolding of destinies amidst the visible finery and squalor of Paris, and the dramas hidden under the surface of respectability in the quieter world of provincial family life.
Balzac's work habits were legendary — he wrote for up to 15 hours a day, fuelled by innumerable cups of fl coffee, and without relinquishing the social life which was the source of his observation and research.
What Balzac had brought to fiction was the social context, a factor unrecognized by the Romantics, for whom the inner world of the individual was all that counted.
  More results at FactBites »



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