Balzac: A Biography

ISBN: 0393313875
ISBN 13: 9780393313871
By: Graham Robb

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Autobio Biography Biographies Biography Considering Currently Reading France French Literature Non Fiction To Read

Reader's Thoughts

Frank Spencer

This turn towards fiction is, for me, an attempt to mine the novels and biographies for insights into people and how they can be understood/helped/educated. This biography and Pere Goriot, by Balzac, both contribute. The Signet Classics edition of Pere is much easier to read than the other translations I have found, so be aware of that issue. Balzac's characters are complex and numerous enough that you are not likely to run out of things to read. Balzac only lived to about the age of 50, so what he accomplished is amazing in that light. He may have written, in some spurts, for about 45 out of 48 hours at a stretch. No writer's block there. He read one of Dickens' early stories, so that's an interesting tie in. I knew that it was a good idea to get expensive stuff for your love, but I didn't know what to say to go along with it. Here, for your benefit, is Honore (hence, Nore) Balzac's version: "'You are my whim, my passion, by mistress, my comrade, my louploup, my brother, my conscience, my happiness and my wife, and you must also be the object of my follies... for you are all my hope and all my life. If only you knew how carefully I am arranging everything!' 'And when you see it, you will say, "What, Nore, is that all it cost?"'" Looks like all three quotation marks (the middle one single)are warranted at the end. Anyone who knows better, please let me know.

Esteban Gordon

'Twas adequately written at best. I think when writing a biography you really should focus more on an organized, well written collection of facts. Instead, this author chose to spend too much time trying to be a half ass Freudian analyst whilst attempting to play the detective 150 years after the fact about very minor, minor facts. The reality is that academics should usually stick to writing useless papers keeping up their tenure instead of trying to be "artistes." The real savior of this book is that when old Balzac peers out from the pages, his genius is sweet redemption.


I have not read Balzac, I'v but read Grahm Robb.

Jonis Davis

Read Balzac! I recently reread Le Pere Goriot for the first time since college, and it led me to Graham Robb’s marvelous biography. A huge, voracious character who transformed what he saw into the immense 100+ volume La Comedie Humaine. Robb presents a man whose influence both in and outside France is still immense. Next I think I’ll read Illusions Perdues or Eugenie Grandet or La Cousine Bette.

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