Honoré de Balzac (French pronunciation: [ɔnɔʁe də balzak]; 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon.
However Balzac becomes most famous at the time of his life for his realistic and psychological novels at such Le Père Goriot (1835, sometimes translated as either “Father Goriot” or “Old Man Goriot”) and Eugénie Grandet (1833, simply translated as “Eugenie Grandet” in English). They all constitute a very important part of his oeuvre but they have unfortunately often led to reductively categorize him as just “a realist author”, thus missing the point of Balzac’s momentous contribution to the imaginary in literature.
Born into a bourgeois family he is educated by a nurse until the age of four. Then from 1807 to 1813 Balzac would be in boarding school at the collège des oratoriens de Vendôme also in the Centre region of France. However, from sixteen years of age he would leave his native region and go study in Paris.
His tumultuous life was one of mounting debts and almost incessant toil, with frequent bouts of writing feverishly for 15 hours at a stretch (his death has been attributed to overwork and excessive coffee consumption). He is generally considered the major early influence on realism, or naturalism, in the novel and one of the greatest fiction writers of all time.
Among his masterpieces are Eugénie Grandet (1833), Pre Goriot (1835), Lost Illusions (1837–43), A Harlot High and Low (1843–47), and Cousin Bette (1846). His novels are notable for their great narrative drive, their large casts of vital and diverse characters, and their obsessive interest in and examination of virtually all spheres of life. His best-known story collection is his Droll Stories, 3 vol. (1832–37).
An early stab at a business career left him with huge debt. He is said to have died of stress and excessive coffee consumption.
He [Balzac] believed in a constitutional monarchy and an aristocracy of the feudal type; aristocracy, he said, was the intellect of the social system. He wrote a pamphlet in favor of primogeniture, and he did not believe in 'the rights of man,' human equality, or the ability of the masses of the people to govern themselves. One man should have the power to make laws."
(1799-1850). The great French novelist Honore de Balzac wrote of life in France during his own time. His series of almost 80 novels and tales, which he called La Comedie humaine (The Human Comedy), forms a social history of France in the first half of the 1800s. In the works Balzac depicts more than 2,000 named characters, many of whom appear in later stories. The author labored mightily on each book. Writing the manuscript was only the first step. He would revise the printer’s proof until little was left of the original text.
Honoré de Balzac, original name Honoré Balssa (born May 20, 1799, Tours, France—died August 18, 1850, Paris), French literary artist who produced a vast number of novels and short stories collectively called La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy). He helped to establish the traditional form of the novel and is generally considered to be one of the greatest novelists of all time.
And when in 1820 (the licence having been obtained and M. Balzac, senior, having had some losses) the father wished the son to become a practicing lawyer in one or another branch, Honoré revolted. His family had left Paris, and they tried to starve him into submission by establishing him in a garret with a very small allowance. Here he began to write tragedies, corresponded (in letters which have fortunately been preserved) with his sister Laure, and, most important of all, attempted something in prose fiction.
Honoré de Balzac is the first novelist to place Paris, the great capital city of his time, at the heart of his work. Balzac’s life (1799-1850) spanned a period of intense urban development, begun by Napoléon I and carried forward by King Louis-Philippe. And yet the majority of transformations that created the Paris tourists know today took place after Balzac, during the time of the Second Empire and Baron Haussmann, and the Third Republic.