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Honore de Balzac: Works & Quotes

Instructor: Tina Miller

Tina has taught English, has an MFA in Creative Writing, and has several published novels and short stories.

Honore de Balzac was a man of much literary aptitude. Publishing volumes of stories and plays, he has conveyed much about French society, wealth and poverty, philosophy, and love. Review a summary of some of these works.

Collections of Wealth

Through his works, Honore de Balzac, has shared observations of love, of struggle, of politics, and of society. He reminds us that ''True love rules especially through memory'' and that ''Where poverty ceases, avarice begins.'' His hundreds of works — collection of books, plays, and stories — are a collection to behold. Peruse through Balzac's library of works in this summary with quotes.

Portrait of Honore de Balzac
Portrait of Honore de Balzac

Setting the Stage

Balzac wrote several plays during his writing career, one of which is Pamela Giraud. This play, constructed with five acts, features Pauline of the Peau de Chagrin. She's honest: ''I shall still speak the truth, and repeat my testimony before the police justice.'' She's excitable: ''I couldn't stand it any longer, the excitement was too great—and the suspense was so cruel. I tried to brace up my courage by the calmness of M. Jules while the jury was deliberating.'' Yet she's entangled in a world of wealth and nobility.

In the play, Joseph confesses his love for Pamela. She retorts, ''I do not wish to become the wife of an upholsterer's apprentice.'' Little does he know, she's fancying Adolph Durand. He's handsome, calls her beautiful, and is believed to be an aristocrat. He's in trouble, though. It is because of Adolph Durand that he, Pamela, and Joseph get caught up in triangles of love and crime.

Pamela dreams of an aristocratic life.
Aristocrats

Sinners Among Us

Balzac shows his span of topics and interests throughout his novels and short stories. Such is the case in ''The Afflictions of an English Cat.'' Told through the eyes of the cat, the story explores the cat's understanding of feline law. Throughout, the cat comments upon birth, mice, and advice given. ''The greatest privilege of Cats is to depart with the grace that characterizes your actions, and let no one know where you are going to make your little toilets. Thus you expose yourself only when you are beautiful. Deceived by appearances, everybody will take you for an angel.'' Thus, it is not only human society members who must succumb to expectations.

''Odd Sayings of Three Pilgrims,'' a short story, shifts gears and focuses not on the offenses of cats, but on those of three pilgrims trekking to Rome to visit the new Pope. The three men from Paris, Germany, and Burgundy ''were thrown out who had set out for this country, and would have to pass the high Alps, in order to gain this said town of Rome, where they were going to seek the /remittimus/ of various sins.''

Father Goriot is obsessed with his daughters, and this leads to his own ruin, financially and personally. Set in an aristocratic society where socialization and money are necessities for success, the short story ''Father Goriot'' shares insights about youth, love, money, and fame. It's disclosed that, '' If youth were not ignorant and timid, civilization would be impossible.'' Even in such a society, we are reminded that, ''Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another's happiness than in your own.''

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