The Magic Skin

The Magic Skin

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The Magic Skin

The Magic Skin

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The initial idea of Balzac's "Comédie Humaine" was derived from Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire's doctrine of the unity of composition. He proposed to analyze society as the great philosophical anatomist had analyzed the zoölogical kingdom, and to explain the differences between classes of men and women by demonstrating the influence of environment in modifying a common humanity. In order to carry out this colossal undertaking it was necessary to dissect society, to examine its various states and elements, both separately and together, to catalogue with laborious and patient thoroughness all the manifold tendencies, influences, external and internal agencies, which in myriad combinations operate to produce the phenomena called in the aggregate civilized life. He did not regard himself as a writer of romances, but as a social historian, or, as he himself put it, as the secretary of French society, which acted its own history while he took notes of all that passed before his eyes. But, as he says in the general introduction to his collected works, after having, done all this, after having accumulated the material for a real history of society in the nineteenth century, "ought, I not to study the reason or the reason of those social . . .

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