Balzac and the Human Comedy

Balzac and the Human Comedy

Balzac and the Human Comedy

Balzac and the Human Comedy

Excerpt

THE LITERARY vocation of Balzac -- "The Poet," as his school- mates in Vendôme nicknamed him -- revealed itself in the third form at school. And the "rhymester" persisted in his quest of the Muse. By 1818, the beginner's experiments, still poetic, were romantic" in the style of Lamartine, then pseudoclassic in the manner of Voltaire; he experimented with the epic in the style of La Henriade and La Pucelle and worked on a tragedy, Cromwell, which he finished in that year. This play was a failure, which decided him to turn his literary ambitions in another direction.

Philosophy had already attracted him. At the Sorbonne, between 1817 and 1819, he studied with Victor Cousin: this teacher "seemed a sort of hicrophant, coming from a world invisible to announce things unknown," says Philippe Damiron. If one compares the theories that Louis Lambert professes in his letters from Paris dated 1818, while he was studying at the Sorbonne, with those that Victor Cousin dealt with in the same year, one cannot but notice the precise similarities between them. Cousin inquired into the forms that religious feeling had assumed, over the course of centuries, in its most exalted aspects, in beings endowed with unusual gifts, in mystagogues. He sought the explanation for these phenomena in the laws of psychology, putting on the same plane the manifestations of fanaticism and of authentic Christian saintliness, visions, and ecstacies. Later this topic was to be Balzac's theme in Le Livre Mystique , including Les Proscrits, Louis Lambert , and Séraphîta . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.