Balzac by Frederick Lawton

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PREFACE




Excusing himself for not undertaking to write a life of Balzac,
Monsieur Brunetiere, in his study of the novelist published
shortly before his death, refused somewhat disdainfully to admit
that acquaintance with a celebrated man's biography has
necessarily any value. "What do we know of the life of
Shakespeare?" he says, "and of the circumstances in which /Hamlet/
or /Othello/ was produced? If these circumstances were better
known to us, is it to be believed and will it be seriously
asserted that our admiration for one or the other play would be
augmented?" In penning this quirk, the eminent critic would seem
to have wilfully overlooked the fact that a writer's life may have
much or may have little to do with his works. In the case of
Shakespeare it was comparatively little--and yet we should be glad
to learn more of this little. In the case of Balzac it was much.
His novels are literally his life; and his life is quite as full
as his books of all that makes the good novel at once profitable
and agreeable to read. It is not too much to affirm that any one
who is acquainted with what is known to-day of the strangely
chequered career of the author of the /Comedie Humaine/ is in a
better position to understand and appreciate the different parts
which constitute it. Moreover, the steady rise of Balzac's
reputation, during the last fifty years, has been in some degree
owing to the various patient investigators who have gathered
information about him whom Taine pronounced to be, with
Shakespeare and Saint-Simon, the greatest storehouse of documents
we possess concerning human nature.
 

About Frederick Lawton

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Published February 15, 2005 by EbooksLib. 244 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, History. Fiction

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