Balzac 1799 - 1850 (51)

The more one judges, the less one loves.


Cousin Betty

Chapter I
Toward the middle of the month of July, in the year 1838, one of those vehicles called milords that had lately made their appearance in Paris drove along the Rue de l’Université, carrying a heavily built man of middle height in the uniform of a captain of the National Guard.

Among Parisians, of whose intelligence we hear so much, there are some who think themselves infinitely better men in uniform than in their ordinary clothes, and who imagine that the taste of women is so depraved that they will be favorably impressed—so they fancy—by the sight of a busby and military trappings.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a French novelist and playwright considered one of the greatest writers of the 19th century. He was born on May 20, 1799, in Tours, France. Balzac's works are known for their extensive portrayal of French society and his ambitious project, "La Comédie Humaine," a series of interconnected novels depicting various aspects of contemporary life.

Balzac had a diverse educational background and pursued various career paths before devoting himself to writing. He studied law, attended boarding school, and worked in publishing. These experiences provided him with a deep understanding of different social classes, professions, and human behavior, which he masterfully incorporated into his writings.

His literary career gained momentum in the 1830s with the publication of works like "Eugénie Grandet" (1833) and "Lost Illusions" (1837-1843). These novels showcased Balzac's meticulous attention to detail and his ability to create complex characters driven by their desires and ambitions.

Balzac's magnum opus, "La Comédie Humaine," consisted of approximately 91 novels and short stories. It covered a wide range of themes, including love, ambition, social status, and the impact of industrialization on French society. Through this extensive body of work, Balzac aimed to provide a comprehensive portrayal of human nature and the complexities of French society.

Despite his literary success, Balzac struggled with financial difficulties throughout his life. He lived an extravagant lifestyle and accumulated substantial debts. Balzac's dedication to his craft was remarkable, often working long hours and consuming copious amounts of coffee to fuel his writing.

Honoré de Balzac died on August 18, 1850, in Paris, at the age of 51. His works have had a lasting impact on literature, influencing writers such as Marcel Proust and Charles Dickens. Balzac's insightful observations of human nature, vivid characterizations, and detailed descriptions continue to captivate readers and make him a significant figure in the literary world.