Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.
Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac and Henry James, as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.
An enthusiastic reader and independent thinker as a child, Balzac had trouble adapting to the teaching style of his grammar school. His willful nature caused trouble throughout his life and frustrated his ambitions to succeed in the world of business.
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'What holds sway over this country without morals, beliefs, or feelings? Gold and pleasure.' Sexual attraction, artistic insight, and the often ironic relationship between them is the dominant theme in the three short works collected in this volume. In Sarrasine an impetuous young sculptor falls in love with a diva of the Roman stage, but rapture turns to rage when he discovers the reality behind the seductiveness of the singer's voice. The ageing artist in The Unknown Masterpiece, obsessed with his creation of the perfect image of an ideal woman, tries to hide it from the jealous young student who is desperate for a glimpse of it. And in The Girl with the Golden Eyes, the hero is a dandy whose attractiveness for the mysterious Paquita has an unexpected origin. These enigmatic and disturbing forays into the margins of madness, sexuality, and creativity show Balzac spinning fantastic tales as profound as any of his longer fictions. His mastery of the seductions of storytelling places these novellas among the nineteenth-century's richest explorations of art and desire. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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