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July 1, 2021


#Paris In July Honoré Balzac

by N@ncy

  • Author:  Honoré Balzac
  • Genre:  novella
  • Title:  La Maison du Chat Qui Pelote
  • Published:  1830
  • #ParisInJuly

  • I’m starting this month of Paris in July by reading a few books
  • written in “L’âge d’or du roman 19th C”.
  • The major literary work I do not have the courage to read
  • is Balzac’s La Comédie Humaine.
  • Why? …because it will take a lifetime to read in French!
  • It contains nearly 100 novels and plays.
  • The vast numbers of characters Blazac created
  • represent an entire society in his head!
  • The completed Comédie Humaine totalled
  • 2472 named characters and 566 unnamed characters.

  • I at least read the first words (novella) of La Comédie Humaine
  • La Maison du Chat Qui Pelote. (95 pages).
  • You can find all the plot information on the Wikipedia page.


  • The novella felt like I was reading Sense and Sensibility
  • …but with a sad ending.
  • Thank goodness Ms Austen always gives
  • us the “happy ever after” last chapter.
  • Blazac uses the basic construction of opposites:
  • 2 sisters – Virginie is sweet, patient; Augustine is a coquette, flirt
  • 2 lovers – Joseph is a reliable businessman; Théo is a flamboyant artist
  • 2 marriages – “mariage de convenance” – “mariage d’amour”
  • Augustine seems bound for happiness and
  • Virginie for a dreary life.
  • But destiny has surprises in store.

  • Despite all the risks of marriage, and there are many as Balzac reveals
  • …still the author wants to leave us this message:
  • …a marriage that is short and passionate is worth more
  • …than one that is predictable and banal.
  • In the eyes of the main character Augustine:
  • ” « dix-huit mois de bonheur »
  • valent « mille existences » banales
  • #Classic and a quick read to brush up on your French language skills!
  • The book starts with the artist Théodore observing the shop
  • where Augustine lives with her father and family.

  • Climax: Augustine confronts the courtesan Duchesse de Carigliano
  • …it is all about that portrait on the wall!

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 1 2021

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Very interesting- I am currently reading Lire Magazine olume 19 which is on Balzac and hoping to improve my French. I am sure that you would agree that Austen and Balzac were very different writers. The wit exchanged in a Bath drawing room compared to the drama in a Parision atelier. Balzac makes you think hard and was concerned with the realistic dichotomies in levels of French society so I find myself thinking about George Eliot and we know he was an influence on Dickens. I wonder if Proust might not suit us both better. I keep wondering about tackling Lacan!!


    • Jul 2 2021

      Thanks so much for the re-blog and your thoughts!


  2. Jul 2 2021

    I love Paris in July! I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Balzac but you give me good incentive to do so!


  3. Jul 4 2021

    Reading Balzac certainly sounds like a good challenge for you during Paris in July! I’m impressed.


  4. thecontentreader
    Jul 10 2021

    Sounds interesting. I have only read Le Père Goriot which I liked. By chance, while looking for other books about Paris I ran into one of his trilogies: Ferragus, chef des Dévorants (1833)
    La Duchesse de Langeais (1834) and The Girl With the Golden. It seems they are part of his La Comédie humaine. It seems a good idea to read them this month. Not sure if I will be able to read all three of them though.


  5. I must try a little Balzac.

    Liked by 1 person


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