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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Eugénie Grandet by Honoré de Balzac

Book Review
Eugénie Grandet
by  Honoré de Balzac
p. 1833
Terrible Free Amazon Kindle version- don't read it.

  From a technical perspective this is the worst ebook I've ever read because it actually omits portions of the text- specifically the text of the letters between the two main characters at the end of the book.  Eugénie Grandet is a cautionary tale about the perils of free books.  Honoré de Balzac is a transitional figure between  the less self-conscious fiction of the 18th century and the more morally complex works of the 19th century.

      Honoré de Balzac was a prolific writer- like Sir Walter Scott, he wrote to clear debt. (1)  Like Sir Walter Scott, or for that matter, Charles Dickens, there is a lot of Balzac to choose from.  His main activity occurred between 1830 and ended just before 1850.  Eugénie Grandet was actually written the same year as Le Père Goriot, another work that Balzac placed onto the 2006 edition of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.  

     That is at least one similarity between Honoré de Balzac and Charles Dickens, who wrote Oliver Twist and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby at the same time only four years later.  I think the best way to explain this is a rise in the size of the available Audience for Novels between 1830 and 1850.   The Audience has "arrived" by 1850. (2)  Dickens and Balzac are fortunate in that they were writing Novels at the right time, and had the right disposition to take advantage of an upward surge in Audience size for their work.

   Their success is a demonstration of what a combination of good work ethic and good timing in terms of size of potential Audience can achieve for a working Artist seeking to earn a living from his/her work.


(1) 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, 2006 edition, entry on Eugénie Grandet by  Honoré de Balzac 
(2) Victorian High Noon


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