A genius follows no rules, for what makes Balzac tower over lesser mortals is the vast design conceived by his imagination, inspiring his intellect to present as his vision of the universe.

Balzac designated that as the ''Human Comedy,'' and when we behold the world presented in the 20 or so of his major novels, we are taken into the heart of that vision.

Balzac's skin of grief : English readers are no doubt familiar with the dozen of major novels by Honore de Balzac, and if you are not, a glorious feast of the imagination awaits you, for Balzac, [1799 -1850] is one the supreme novelists of world literature.

For every practicing novelist, he remains what he was Henry James; a novelist from whom James learned ''more of the lessons of the engaging mystery fiction than from anyone else.''

Oscar Wide wrote of him : ''The 19th century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac,'' and added, ''We are merely carrying out, with footnotes and unnecessary addition, the whim or fancy or creative vision of a great novelist.''

Balzac's statue by Auguste Rodin shows him to be magnificent giant that he was, his life, fascinatingly captured in Prometheus : The Life of Balzac by Andre Maurois, is a delight to read, as the more recent biography by Graham Robb.

Together with the widely known illusions Perdues [Lost Illusions] and Le Pere Goriot [Father Goriot] is one that's not so frequently referred to : Le Peaeu de Chagrin [The Wild Ass's Skin], a singular gem one misses when there are many jewels to choose from.

From its very first sentence, presenting a young man entering a gambling den in Paris, to the end of the novel, where he gives his life to ''the queen of illusions'', the reader is enraptured by the unfolding of the story, entirely gripped by the succession of events in the young man's life, even what happens next, is not the unexpected.

The sentences flow so naturally that the narrative gives the impression of having sprung from the air without any human intervention, and we never question the truth of what we observe.

Balzac was not a careful stylist of French prose, unlike Gustave Flaubert. He just let the words pour out at great speed. We know from Flaubert's letters how, when writing Madame Bovary, he sometimes spent a whole day working on one sentence. 

In Balzac's correspondence, we hear him saying to a friend - when sending him a synopsis of a novel he was working on and asking the friend to write a part of it - that if he could not write 60 pages a day, then to forget it.

That must have been the speed at which he himself wrote, for else could a man who died aged 51 have composed over a hundred novels? 

The honor and serving of great research and writings on Balzac, continues. The World Students Society thanks Zulfikar Ghose.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!