Welcome to visitUplink and downlink networkofficial website
Uplink and downlink network

he said aloud, and there was no doubt that he meant it

time:2023-12-02 07:14:51Classification:lawsource:android

Poor Allenet! It was not long afterwards that we accompanied his body to the grave, one gloomy afternoon towards the end of autumn--all of us who had known and loved him. He is dead also, that other Balzacian who was so much interested in this work, and for whom the /Comedie Humaine/ was an absorbing thought, Honore Granoux. He was a merchant of Marseilles, with a wan aspect and already an invalid when I met him. But he became animated when speaking of Balzac; and with what a mysterious, conspiratorlike veneration did he pronounce these words: "The Vicomte"--meaning, of course, to the thirty-third degree Balzacolatrites, that incomparable bibliophile to whom we owe the history of the novelist's works, M. de Spoelberch de Lovenjoul!--"The Vicomte will approve--or disapprove." That was the unvarying formula for Granoux, who had devoted himself to the enormous task of collecting all the articles, small or great, published about Balzac since his entry as a writer. And just see what a fascination this /devil of a man/--as Theophile Gautier once called him--exercises over his followers; I am fully convinced that these little details of Balzacian mania will cause the reader to smile. As for me, I have found them, and still find them, as natural as Balzac's own remark to Jules Sandeau, who was telling him about a sick sister: "Let us go back to reality. Who is going to marry Eugenie Grandet?"

he said aloud, and there was no doubt that he meant it

Fascination! That is the only word that quite characterizes the sort of influence wielded by Balzac over those who really enjoy him; and it is not to-day that the phenomenon began. Vallies pointed it out long ago in an eloquent page of the /Refractaires/ concerning "book victims." Saint Beuve, who can scarcely be suspected of fondness towards the editor-in-chief of the /Revue Parisienne/, tells a story stranger and more significant than every other. At one time an entire social set in Venice, and the most aristocratic, decided to give out among its members different characters drawn from the /Comedie Humaine/; and some of these roles, the critic adds, mysteriously, were artistically carried out to the very end;--a dangerous experiment, for we are well aware that the heroes and heroines of Balzac often skirt the most treacherous abysses of the social Hell.

he said aloud, and there was no doubt that he meant it

All this happened about 1840. The present year is 1887, and there seems no prospect of the sorcery weakening. The work to which these notes serve as an introduction may be taken as proof. Indeed, somebody has said that the men of Balzac have appeared as much in literature as in life, especially since the death of the novelist. Balzac seems to have observed the society of his day less than he contributed to form a new one. Such and such personages are truer to life in 1860 than in 1835. When one considers a phenomenon of such range and intensity, it does not suffice to employ words like infatuation, fashion, mania. The attraction of an author becomes a psychological fact of prime importance and subject to analysis. I think I can see two reasons for this particular strength of Balzac's genius. One dwells in the special character of his vision, the other in the philosophical trend which he succeeded in giving to all his writing.

he said aloud, and there was no doubt that he meant it

As to the scope of his vision, this /Repertory/ alone will suffice to show. Turn over the leaves at random and estimate the number of fictitious deeds going to make up these two thousand biographies, each individual, each distinct, and most of them complete--that is to say, taking the character at his birth and leaving him only at his death. Balzac not only knows the date of birth or of death, he knows as well the local coloring of the time and the country and profession to which the man belongs. He is thoroughly conversant with questions of taxation and income and the agricultural conditions. He is not ignorant of the fact that Grandet cannot make his fortune by the same methods employed by Gobseck, his rival in avarice; nor Ferdinand du Tillet, that jackal, with the same magnitude of operations worked out by that elephant of a Nucingen. He has outlined and measured the exact relation of each character to his environment in the same way he has outlined and measured the bonds uniting the various characters; so well that each individual is defined separately as to his personal and his social side, and in the same manner each family is defined. It is the skeleton of these individuals and of these families that is laid bare for your contemplation in these notes of Messieurs Cerfberr and Christophe. But this structure of facts, dependent one upon another by a logic equal to that of life itself, is the smallest effort of Balzac's genius. Does a birth-certificate, a marriage-contract or an inventory of wealth represent a person? Certainly not. There is still lacking, for a bone covering, the flesh, the blood, the muscles and the nerves. A glance from Balzac, and all these tabulated facts become imbued with life; to this circumstantial view of the conditions of existence with certain beings is added as full a view of the beings themselves.

And first of all he knows them physiologically. The inner workings of their corporeal mechanism is no mystery for him. Whether it is Birotteau's gout, or Mortsauf's nervousness, or Fraisier's skin trouble, or the secret reason for Rouget's subjugation by Flore, or Louis Lambert's catalepsy, he is as conversant with the case as though he were a physician; and he is as well informed, also, as a confessor concerning the spiritual mechanism which this animal machine supports. The slightest frailties of conscience are perceptible to him. From the portress Cibot to the Marquise d'Espard, not one of his women has an

evil thought that he does not fathom. With what art, comparable to that of Stendhal, or Laclos, or the most subtle analysts, does he note --in /The Secrets of a Princess/--the transition from comedy to sincerity! He knows when a sentiment is simple and when it is complex, when the heart is a dupe of the mind and when of the senses. And through it all he hears his characters speak, he distinguishes their voices, and we ourselves distinguish them in the dialogue. The growling of Vautrin, the hissing of La Gamard, the melodious tones of Madame de Mortsauf still linger in our ears. For such intensity of evocation is as contagious as an enthusiasm or a panic.

There is abundant testimony going to show that with Balzac this evocation is accomplished, as in the mystic arts by releasing it, so to speak, from the ordinary laws of life. Pray note in what terms M. le Docteur Fournier, the real mayor of Tours, relates incidents of the novelist's method of work, according to the report of a servant employed at the chateau of Sache: "Sometimes he would shut himself up in his room and stay there several days. Then it was that, plunged into a sort of ecstasy and armed with a crow quill, he would write night and day, abstaining from all food and merely contenting himself with decoctions of coffee which he himself prepared." [Brochure of M. le Docteur Fournier in regard to the statue of Balzac, that statue a piece of work to which M. Henry Renault--another devotee who had established /Le Balzac/--had given himself so ardently. In this brochure is found a very curious portrait of Balzac, after a sepia by Louis Boulanger belonging to M. le Baron Larrey.]

In the opening pages of /Facino Cane/ this phenomenon is thus described: "With me observation had become intuitive from early youth. It penetrated the soul without neglecting the body, or rather it seized so completely the external details that it went beyond them. It gave me the faculty of living the life of the individual over whom it obtained control, and allowed me to substitute myself for him like the dervish in /Arabian Nights/ assumed the soul and the body of persons over whom he pronounced certain words." And he adds, after describing how he followed a workman and his wife along the street: "I could espouse their very life, I felt their rags on my back. I trod in their tattered shoes. Their desires, their needs, all passed into my soul, or my soul passed into them. It was the dream of a man awakened." One day while he and a friend of his were watching a beggar pass by, the friend was so astonished to see Balzac touch his own sleeve; he seemed to feel the rent which gaped at the elbow of the beggar.


copyright © 2016 powered by Uplink and downlink network   sitemap