honoré de balzac (1799-1850), prolific French journalist and author wrote la comédie humaine (“the human comedy”).
composed of more than ninety short stories, novellas and novellas, they are grouped under the following headings;
After much editing and revision, la comédie humaine now forms a cohesive vision of Parisian and provincial French society during the Restoration and the July Monarchy. “the country is provincial; He gets ridiculous when he tries to imitate Paris.” Writing critically about the Napoleonic Empire and the French Revolution, the new bourgeois monarch Louis Philippe sets the context for his major works. he explores themes of man and his place in society and the influences of his environment, politics, love and wealth. he also talks about art, literature and metaphysics. Although not for lack of imagination, several characters recur in his novels, including Eugène Rastigniac and Henri de Marsay.
While Balzac also had lifelong ambitions in theater and politics, he is best known for ranking high along with fellow French royalist Gustave Flaubert as one of the major contributors to the movement. He was a friend of Alexandre Dumas and influenced Emile Zola, Marcel Proust and Guy de Maupassant. he was inspired by the divine comedy of johann wolfgang von goethe and dante alighieri, studied the works and was a friend of sir walter scott, who called balzac’s writing “observational and > Imagination”, a difficult balance that he seemed to have mastered. Some of his historical novels are similar to Ann Radcliffe’s gothic romances. His works have inspired numerous stage and screen adaptations and are still widely read and studied.
Born 1799 on Saint Honoré’s Day, May 20, in Tours, France, Balzac would later add the French particle de to his name, though why is unclear. He was the son of Anne Charlotte Laure Sallambier and Bernard François Balssa (d. 1829) who, among many other positions, worked as secretary to the King’s council.
Balzac’s early years were spent away from home before he entered elementary school on tour. he then attended the collège de vendôme before moving to paris in 1816 to study law at the sorbonne. Upon enrollment, he worked as a clerk, but, against his father’s wishes, he pursued a career as a writer.
As a journalist, Balzac wrote essays on various topics, including politics, which attracted much of his attention, while he worked on his short stories and novels. Extremely poor and living in a garret in Paris, he published under pseudonyms that include ‘Lord R’Hoone’, an anagram for Honoré. A late-night writer drinking copious amounts of coffee, he also tried his hand at dramas like Paméla Giraud. While relations were somewhat strained with the rest of his family, he corresponded with his sister Laure de El, later known as Madame Surville. He also dabbled in numerous business ventures as a publisher and printer, though they failed and saddled him with debt for years to come.
Like Charles Dickens, many of his works were serialized in publications such as Paris Revue and La Presse. The first full-length work of his follows the French peasants who rebelled against the revolutionary government, les chouans (1829, “the chouans”). in physiology of marriage (1829, “the physiology of marriage”) she writes about women; “belief in its virtue is a kind of social religion; because they are the ornament of the world and the glory of France.”
le peau de chagrin (1831, “the skin of the wild ass”) is influenced by his interest in animal magnetism;
balzac’s autobiographical and philosophical louis lambert (1832) was followed by his masterpieces eugénie grandet (1833) and la recherche de l’absolu (1834, “the search for the absolute”). An adaptation of William Shakespeare’s King Lear, le père goriot (Old Father Goriot) was published in 1835. Of the many titles that followed were the Swedish séraphita (1835) “science is the language of the temporal world; love is that of the spiritual world.”, le lys dans la vallée (1836, “the lily in the valley”), l’enfant maudit (1836, “the hated son”), la vieille fille (1836, “the spinster”), les illusions perdues (1837, “lost illusions”), césar birotteau (1837), and une fille d’Éve (1838, “a daughter of eva”) “a man is a poor creature compared to a woman . ”. in mémoires de deux jeunes mariées (1842, “letters from two brides”) he writes he; “the art of motherhood involves much quiet, unobtrusive self-sacrifice, an hourly devotion that finds no detail too small.”
Albert Savarus (1842) was followed by la rabouilleuse (1842, “the black sheep”) which again explores the world of wealth and corruption in France 19th century. in catherine de medici expliquée, soberana (1843) balzac writes “when religion and royalty are swept away, the people will attack the great, and after the great, they will fall on the rich. ” modeste mignon and béatrix were published in 1844, un homme d’affaires (“a businessman”) in 1845. lacousin bette (1847, prima bette), loosely based on some of balzac’s own affairs, was followed by leprimo pons (1847 ) . splendeurs et misères des courtisanes (“the splendours and miseries of courtesans” or “a tall and short harlot”) was published in four parts between 1838-1847. one of balzac’s last works was les comédiens sans le savoir (1847, “the involuntary actors”).
Balzac lived and wrote mainly in his villa at Sèvres in his later years, although he traveled frequently. He met and has been associated with many notable women who would inspire the characters in his stories, including the much older Madame de Berny and the Marquise de Castries. He had a long correspondence, lettres à l’Étrangère, with the Polish Countess Evelina Hanska, and married her in 1850 in Berdychiv, Ukraine. in a famous letter he wrote to her about her love;
Honoré de Balzac died on August 18, 1850 and is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. old friend Victor Hugo delivered the eulogy; “from now on, the eyes of men will turn to the faces not of those who rule, but of those who are the thinkers.” His grave is adorned with a bronze sculpture by Pierre Jean David Ira, and Auguste Rodin also commemorated his likeness in a bronze bust that now resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England.
biography written by c.d. Merriman for Jalic Inc. copyright jalic inc. 2006. All rights reserved.
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