Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Short Stories of Honoré de Balzac

I read Honoré de Balzac’s novel Le Père Goriot (Father Goriot) several years ago. Today I had my second innings with Balzac—I have been reading The Human Comedy, Peter Brooks’s selection of nine short stories by Blazac. The first two stories in the collection, “Facino Cane,” and “Another Study of Womankind,” that I have finished reading give me the impression that Balzac was a much better short story writer than a novelist.

In his Introduction to the book, Brook quotes Oscar Wilde: “the 19th century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac’s.” According to Brooks, “Balzac “Invents” the new century by being the first writer to represent its emerging urban agglomerations, its nascent capitalist dynamics, its rampant cult of the individual personality.”  Balzac has several literary disciples, from Dostoyevsky and Henry James to Marcel Proust.

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