The Memoirs of Two Young Wives , with only two main characters, is a small-scale chamber work, one of the last French epistolary novels, a mode that belongs more to the previous century than to the s. Both spring from the minor aristocracy, their convent life the consequence of their social position, not any religious vocation.
The letters make up a rich tapestry of private life and feeling for women barred from playing any public role. They tell a story of the opposite paths the two of them take in love and marriage, mapping more intimate ground than the social novels for which Balzac has been most appreciated. Both women embark on discreet missions of redemption, lending their strength to the damaged men they marry. With support from her friend Louise, she deftly manages both his family life and his advancement to a title and a parliamentary position.
All this backstory is sketched in only briefly since the men in the book are dim figures, rarely heard from directly, seen almost entirely through the lens of the confiding women. But the letters, free of any third-person narration, highlight their inner strength, their depth of feeling, and their starkly conflicting views of love and marriage. Louise is very much the romantic heroine, determined to live out a grand passion with the men she loves. Their legend had only recently been popularized on the stage and in an tale by Chateaubriand.
With him she leaves Paris for a bucolic love nest, not far from the city, that excludes society altogether. By July, however, he was confined to his bed. In mid-August Balzac succumbed to gangrene and began having fits of delirium. At one point he called out for Horace Bianchon, the fictional doctor he had included in many novels. I have accustomed her to so much love. The elder Mme. As they worked one evening, he complained of a headache.
Honoré de Balzac (Author of Père Goriot)
As he wrote later: "There are certain magnetic effluvia, in such situations, of which the effect is that the matter does not stop there. She began partaking of the social life around her. Champfleury was intimidated by her vitality and jealousy, and removed himself from her life. Rabou added extensively to them and published both books in They began a relationship that lasted many years, but never married. Eveline was an inspiration for many of Balzac's characters. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Page Kessinger Publishing , reprint. Retrieved October 8, New York University Press , reprint.
Note that spelling changes for the feminine form of Polish surnames.
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He states: "Eveline Hanska, the fourth of seven children, came from a historic Polish family, the Rzewuskis, many of them brilliant warriors, statesmen, adventurers and lunatics. Even the date of 6 January is contentious, and is complicated by the transition at the time from the Julian to Gregorian calendar.
See Floyd, p. Maurois implies on p. His certainty is cited to an entry for Adam Rzewuski in the Dictionary of Polish Biography which gives his birth date as 24 December Eveline was born roughly one year earlier. See Cronin, pp.
Cronin says on p. The exact number of letters is unknown. The cause of his death remains unclear, and sources disagree on the date. Pierrot says 29 November is "le plus vraisemblable" most likely. He adds: "Whether or not Louise Breugniot actually resorted to blackmail, Balzac's righteous horror at her evil deeds, the contradictions in the details he gave to Eveline, and his decision not to prosecute all point to a furious burning of bridges. Robb debunks the rumor that Eve made love to Jean Gigoux while Balzac slipped toward death. He suggests that this was "surely a humorous recognition that nothing now could save him".
The story of Poland. Putnam's sons.
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Where do you want to travel to? Yes, I would like to receive emails from Literary Traveler. You can unsubscribe anytime. If they make their way to Rue Raynouard, however, they will come upon an unexpected and picturesque anomaly: a modest, late 18th-century country house and garden—one of the last traces of the old village of Passy.
Balzac’s Novel of Female Friendship
Honore de Balzac , the prolific 19th century writer and founder of French realism, lived and wrote here from through , in a five-room garden apartment rented under an assumed name, Monsieur de Breugnol. From his small writing table in the south-facing study overlooking the garden, he produced some of his greatest works— Cousin Betty , Cousin Pons , Ursula Mirouet , La Rabouilleuse , The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans —and assembled and corrected the entirety of his colossal volume masterpiece and social inventory of human passions, The Human Comedy.
In it the keenly observant Balzac painted a vibrant panorama of 19th century French society, in which he himself had participated fully, through highly detailed, omniscient narratives of more than 2, characters—characters living in a changing world driven by desire, market forces and the unending appetite for acquiring money through any means. In their constant quests— be it for money, power, sex, love, vengeance or respectability, some would find splendor, others only misery.
Not surprisingly, with his own accumulating debt looming over him, money became an eternal theme. Balzac, who was attached to the idea that everything affects everything else, had a stroke of genius which formed the basis for The Human Comedy : to use throughout the novels recurrent characters who were interconnected by family, money, business or love and set in the bustling social and political saga of the times. When Balzac lived in his Passy apartment, the house and garden were completely hidden from view by a larger building, which since has been demolished.
Saved from being leveled in , the house today is a literary museum, library and research center devoted to Balzac.