Cinq Scenes de la Comedie Humaine (Classic Reprint)

Cinq Scenes de la Comedie Humaine (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from Cinq Scenes de la Comedie Humaine

Scenes of Private Life, of Parisian, Provincial, Polit ical, Military, and Country Life, and adds to these collections groups of Analytical and Philosophical Studies; but in the various editions of his Works these were often re - arranged, and there is little to be gained by insisting on any classification. Without exception the stories contained in this col lection were written between 1830 and 1832. Adieu appeared in the former year, as did An E pisode in the Reign of Terror, though the latter was not acknow1 edged till 1845. A Legend of Christ in Flanders and The Red Inn belong to 1831, The Purse to 1832. But though the stories are thus to be placed in the earlier period of Balzac's maturity, they are as representative of the best aspects of his many-sided genius as the limits of a volume like this will allow. In Adieu we have his power of vivid description and tragic pathos at its height. The Red Inn discloses the secret work ings of conscience with the steady hand of a dissector of morals. The Purse carries us from these heights and depths of the human tragi-comedy to the serenely radiant air of an idyll of true love, charming in itself and remarkable in its contrast to all the other pieces in our selection. An Episode in the Reign of Terror shows his imagination 'reconstructing the psychology of the Revolution and suggests a deep religious under current in.his thought, which furnishes the key to Balzac's social and moral philosophy in the wonderful Legend of Christ in Flanders. So these five stories supplement one another, and together afford in my opinion a better and completer view of Balzac's powers than any single novel of like length could possibly do.

What has been said will suggest that these stories will repay thoughtful reading. There is nothing here that a grammar-school boy or girl may not read, but the book will be better appreciated in the later high school years or by college students, and it is for them that the brief notes have been designed. What can be found in the ordinary French dictionary or in the usual school text - books need not be sought here.

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