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Father Goriot

de Honore de Balzac

The novel takes place during the Bourbon Restoration, which brought about profound changes in French society; the struggle of individuals to secure upper-class status is ubiquitous in the book. The city of Paris...


Cousin Bette

de Honore de Balzac

The crown jewel in a remarkable literary career, Cousin Bette is regarded by many critics to be Balzac's last great work before his death in 1850. A fine example of European realist fiction, the story recounts...


Catherine de' Medici

de Honore de Balzac

Balzac's La Comedie Humaine was a story cycle comprising more than 100 novels and stories. Although most of these works are set in nineteenth-century France, several hearken back to earlier periods. Catherine...


The Wrong Side of Paris

de Honore de Balzac, Jordan Stump & Adam Gopnik

The Wrong Side of Paris, the final novel in Balzac’s The Human Comedy, is the compelling story of Godefroid, an abject failure at thirty, who seeks refuge from materialism by moving into a monastery-like lodging...


Adieu

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

The longish short story "Adieu" is an excerpt from Honore de Balzac's sweeping masterpiece The Human Comedy. A ghost story of sorts, this tragic tale recounts the blossoming romance of two lovers whose relationship...


The Alkahest: Or, The House of Claes

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

Regarded by many critics as one of Honore de Balzac's foremost literary achievements, the novel The Alkahest offers an incisive look at the dangers of obsession. Scientist Balthazar Claes begins his research...


Analytical Studies: Physiology of Marriage and Petty Troubles of Married Life

de Honore de Balzac

This section of The Human Comdedy, the multi-volume series of stories, tales, and essays that comprised most Honore de Balzac's life's work, focuses on love and marriage as they existed in early nineteenth-century...


Another Study of Woman

de Honore de Balzac, Ellen Marriage & Clara Bell

"Another Study of Woman" is a narrative hovering between a short story and a novella in terms of length, extracted from Honore de Balzac's multi-volume masterpiece The Human Comedy. At a private dinner party,...


Albert Savarus

de Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

An extract from Honore de Balzac's vast story cycle The Human Comedy, the novel Albert Savarus details the dramatic twists and turns in a budding love affair between Albert, a young lawyer with literary ambitions,...


The Atheist's Mass

de Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

"The Atheist's Mass" is a short story from the "Scenes From Private Life" section of Honore de Balzac's story cycle The Human Comedy. One day, the narrator happens to see one of his acquaintances, a prominent...


At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

de Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

This novel is part of the Scenes of Private Life section of Honore de Balzac's sweeping saga The Human Comedy. Renowned artist Theodore de Sommervieux falls head-over-heels in love with the beautiful, refined...


The Ball at Sceaux

de Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

One of the earliest pieces Balzac penned for his sweeping story cycle The Human Comedy, this novella is found in the Scenes of Private Life section of the series. Social climber Emilie de Fontaine is a petulant...


Beatrix

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

Honore de Balzac excelled at creating unforgettable characters, but most of his creations were works of pure fiction. Many critics have asserted that the novel Beatrix is a roman a clef depicting the life of...


Bureaucracy

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

This fascinating novel from French master Honore de Balzac was published just as the age of bureaucracy was kicking into high gear in the mid-nineteenth century. Balzac delves deeply into the labyrinthine workings...


Christ in Flanders

de Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

This short tale is part of the "Philosophical Studies" section of Honore de Balzac's The Human Comedy. Almost fable-like in tone, it recounts a boat ride carrying a group of passengers that represent a broad...


The Collection of Antiquities

de Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

In this novel, one of the last vestiges of a genteel family, the Marquis d'Esgrignon, tries to navigate the new social and cultural landscape that has emerged in France's post-revolutionary period. Even though...


The Brotherhood of Consolation

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

French playwright and novelist Honore de Balzac is at his best when he is describing the chaotic tumult of big city life in nineteenth-century Europe. In The Brotherhood of Consolation, he focuses on a secret...


The Country Doctor

de Honore de Balzac, Ellen Marriage & Clara Bell

Part of the massive series that some regard as one of the masterworks of nineteenth-century realism, Honore de Balzac's The Human Comedy, the novel The Country Doctor focuses on Dr. Benassis, a physician by...


A Daughter of Eve

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

This short novel, part of the Scenes of Private Life section of Honore de Balzac's vast masterpiece The Human Comedy, includes the first appearances of key characters who return later in the series. A Daughter...


The Deputy of Arcis

de Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

A masterpiece of political intrigue and machinations, the novel The Deputy of Arcis was left incomplete at Honore de Balzac's death and was finished by Balzac's friend and collaborator Charles Rabou. What starts...