Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), born in Tours, ranks among the great masters of the novel. In 1816, he began studying law at the Sorbonne, but after receiving his license in 1819 he decided to abandon it for literature. By the time of his death, he had written over one hundred novels, novellas, and plays, many of them part of his greatest work, La Comedie humaine –– a reproduction of the French society of his time, picturing in precise detail more than 2,000 characters from every class and every profession.

Colonel Chabert

Balzac once referred to art as “nature concentrated.” And nowhere did his own art achieve such a rarefied state as in Colonel Chabert––one of the celebrated “Scenes from Private Life” from La Comédie Humaine. Chabert is among Balzac’s most tragic heroes: a decorated Napoleonic War veteran believed to have been killed in battle. Severely disfigured, the Colonel returns to Paris as if risen from the grave. There he finds his wife remarried, his pension gone, and his name linked nostalgically to the faded days of Empire.…
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