1. Now Available on Amazon:                            

    > Click here for more Amazon stores


    Dismiss Notice

Honoré de Balzac

Discussion in 'Literary Fiction' started by Bick, Mar 26, 2015.

  1.  
    Allegra

    Allegra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,306
    Lucky you GOLLUM you can read Zweig in original language! I've read Chess Story, The Post-office Girl but my favourite is his non-fiction The World of Yesterday, think about his tragic death, the book is haunting. Shooting Star is a much, much better title than Decisive Moments in History! Please let us know what you think about the book which I haven't read yet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2015
  2.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,072
    Location:
    Australia
    Well it is true I can read, write and speak German but I'm not necessarily fluent enough to revert to the German versions all the time, albeit sometimes I do. My Zweig collection is almost exclusively in English translation. I have only read a little bit of my copy to date. Another to add to the current reading list for posting comments here.

    Cheers.
     
  3.  
    Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Messages:
    4,376
    I'd be interested in comments from any Chronsfolk who have read Zweig's World of Yesterday -- I haven't, don't have a copy, but it has caught my eye before.
     
  4.  
    Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Messages:
    4,376
    Thank you for such kind words! I do hope that, from each of the classes I teach, a student will come away with at least one book or author that the student will want to revisit, and that has prompted a desire for more by that author.

    This fall students of mine will presumably read things such as Jane Austen's Emma, Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby, Conrad's Secret Agent, Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Hamlet and Midsummer Night's Dream, essays by authors including Montaigne, Charles Lamb (probably "Witches and Other Night-Fears"), and Joseph Mitchell*... so I hope their imaginations and intellects will be stirred. (The courses involved are an "Introduction to Literature" course and a course in the British Novel.)

    *In case Mitchell's name isn't familiar: he wrote wonderful essays for The New Yorker that you can find collected in Up in the Old Hotel. I may use the title essay from that book in the Intro to Lit course. I think many Chronsfolk would love it, this essay about working up the courage to operate an ancient elevator so as to ascend to a neglected floor of an old New York building.
    [​IMG]
     
    Allegra likes this.
  5.  
    Allegra

    Allegra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,306
    It reads like listening to a century old wise but very sad man by the campfire, unfolding his life and time to you, telling you how a world that he used to enjoy so much of its peace, culture and normality, were being savaged and lost to him. Lots of explicit accounts on his childhood, his intellectual life, traveling and other fellow famous intellectuals during his prime time, and the turmoil from the raise of Nazi till the war. I see it more than just an autobiography, it's really a fine literature work. I like his philosophical views on culture, art, society and life, but it is that heartfelt nostalgia and desperation, that longing for freedom and humanity made this book powerful. After you finish, you just feel like to sit there and think for a while, with a heavy heart.
     
  6.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,072
    Location:
    Australia
    Nice summary. I actually picked this up today. As you know I'm a Zweig fan but had not read much of his non-fiction and as a memoir finished close to the double suicide with his wife I knew it would be pretty poignant.
     
    Allegra likes this.
  7.  
    Extollager

    Extollager Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Messages:
    4,376
    So...?
     
  8.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,534
    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    Back onto Balzac himself :)... you never did post your thoughts on 'Goriot', Gollum. Did you finish/enjoy it?

    Its a couple of months now since I last read some of the great man*, and I was thinking of delving into either Ursule Mirouet or The Wild Ass' Skin. Any thoughts on these two from anyone?

    *Edit: actually that's a slight lie, as I read a few short stories in his humaine comedie last month.
     
  9.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,915
    Not read the former, but did read The Wild Ass's Skin some years ago. As with "Seraphita" and "Louis Lambert", it is a bit more ethereal in content than many of his works, and deals with religio-philosophical themes; it also has a few powerful moments as a piece of terror literature, though this is not likely to be concentrated enough for most going to it for that purpose. I would definitely recommend it, though, as it is a novel which is very stimulating and worth visiting more than once....
     
  10.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,534
    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    Thanks for the commentary on The Wild Ass's Skin, JD. Given it made his reputation, was wildly popular in his lifetime and was the reason he became acquainted with Ewelina Hanksa, I should certainly read it next I think. I like the fact that he wrote some of his own reviews! From Wikipedia: In some cases Balzac wrote the reviews himself; using the name "Comte Alex de B—", he announced that the book proved he had achieved "the stature of genius".
     
  11.  
    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    13,915
    According to George Saintsbury's introduction in the edition I have, Balzac reputedly wrote to his sister: "Sans génie, je suis flambé!" (If I have not genius, it is all up with me!) Obviously, he was aware that what he was tackling was something which would require an almost superhuman effort, and from what I've read, he did fear at times that he lacked that level of genius. So it isn't surprising that, if he wrote some of the reviews, he would make such a claim. An ego the man had, certainly; but in this case, with this particular subject, I'd say it was well warranted....
     
  12.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,072
    Location:
    Australia
    Got sidetracked I'm afraid. I have a new job so it is taking up quite a bit of my time at the moment!!

    I have put that on hold while I read Confessions of an Italian, the second key 19th Century Italian novel alongside Manzoni's better known The Betrothed. So far so good.

    @Extiollager: Likewise no further movement on sourcing the Lewis I'm afraid.
     
  13.  
    Bick

    Bick A Member of the Forum

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,534
    Location:
    Auckland, NZ
    Alarmed as I was to see the thread on my literary hero Balzac had slipped down to page 4 on the litarary fiction forum, I would doubtless have found a trumped up reason to bump it anyway, but as I've just started one of his books, I have a justifiable excuse.

    As promised, see above, I have started The Wild Ass's Skin, and interestingly it starts, as with Pere Goriot, with a detailed description to set the scene. Only a few pages in, and already I feel slightly more educated that I did half an hour ago. Good ol' Balzac.

    Incidentally, in the Museum of Fine Art here in Beunos Aires I saw, yesterday, a quite wonderful bronze bust of Balzac by Rodin, no less. They have quite an impressive collection both of piantings and sculpture - lots of impressionists as well as older stuff like Pissano.
     
  14.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Messages:
    9,072
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm glad you brought Balzac back from the brink....;)

    Wild Ass's Skin is another in my collection but again sadly I am yet to read it. I want to read Old Goirot through in February and post here. Sorry I've been a bit slack of late...mind you I've read Rodoredra's classic Spanish Civil War novel In Diamond Square (review written, yet to post) and now completing Cesare Pevese's last and perhaps greatest work The Moon and the Bonfires (review for this as well)...then back to completing Bulgakov's Master and Margarita for whom I've already posted a placeholder thread...:)
     
Loading...

Share This Page