Honoré de Balzac – May 20, 1799



Today is the anniversary of the birth of an author whose works have given me much pleasure over the years, Honoré de Balzac.

I first discovered Balzac around 1977 when a neighbor loaned me her much-used paperback copy of Le Père Goriot. The book was literally falling apart. It was only held together with a rubber band. Yet, my neighbor wanted it returned after I read it. I suspected this meant it was a great read. I was not disappointed.


So began my quest to read more books by this author in the days before online searches. Eventually I was given a complete set as a birthday present by a wonderful person who means the world to me. It is the Saintsbury edition largely translated by Ellen Marriage. Working from this set and with John in New Zealand using the Katherine Prescott Wormeley translations, we made the entire Human Comedy plus five plays available at Project Gutenberg in time for the 200th anniversary of Balzac’s birth.

A number of years ago the small Yahoo group devoted to Balzac read the complete Human Comedy. The discussions can be found in the archives. The La Comedie Humaine blog was started by Lisa and with the aid of Pamela and others, summaries for all the stories and other information are now available to all.


6 comments on “Honoré de Balzac – May 20, 1799

  1. bennythomas says:

    Balzac is not for just one read. He has given us access to a world of imagination and so life-like. Characters are all those whom you have come across before. Balzac is past fads and criticisms. Thanks for the reminder,Dagny. Happy Birthday, Balzac!


  2. Gill Price says:

    I first discovered Balzac when I was doing A Level French. We read Eugenie Grandet and I loved it. I made up my mind I would read every word written by Balzac. Over the years I have read the entire Comedie Humaine (in English I confess) and I love his characters, especially Grandet, Rastignac, the Bridau brothers and Cousin Bette.


    • I confess that all my reading is in English too. He does have such great characters! Even some of the ones, like Chabert, who only make one appearance are memorable.


      • Gill Price says:

        Chabert is an interesting story. I would have thought that he would have fought harder for himself being a soldier. But I guess that all the fight had gone out of him suffering as he had done. His wife was horrible!


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