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An Episode under the Terror   By: (1799-1850)

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An Episode under the Terror by Honoré de Balzac is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that delves into the dark periods of history. Set during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, the book presents a chilling account of the profound turmoil that engulfed the nation.

Balzac's writing style is incredibly detailed and evocative, allowing readers to vividly visualize the chaos and terror that reigned during this period. Through his meticulous descriptions, the author skillfully transports us back to a time plagued by fear and uncertainty. The imagery he employs is both haunting and poignant, highlighting the sinister atmosphere that permeates the narrative.

The story unfolds through the eyes of the protagonist, whose deep sense of injustice provides a compelling insight into the human experience amidst such chaos. Balzac masterfully portrays the psychological toll the Revolution took on individuals, as they grapple with their beliefs, loyalties, and survival. The characters are complex and well-developed, each representing a different facet of society and its response to the Terror.

One of the book's most striking qualities is the exploration of morality and the blurred lines between heroism and villainy. Through the protagonist's journey, Balzac skillfully showcases the moral dilemmas faced by ordinary people forced to make unimaginable choices in the face of life-threatening circumstances. This philosophical exploration forces readers to question their own ethical boundaries and contemplate the nature of good and evil.

Balzac's prose is truly captivating, transporting readers into a world of political intrigue, fear, and personal sacrifice. His ability to balance historical accuracy with compelling storytelling is commendable. While the book primarily focuses on the individual experience under the Terror, it also provides readers with a broader understanding of the social and political context of the time.

An Episode under the Terror is a profoundly engrossing novel that delves into the darkest aspects of history. Balzac's masterful storytelling and keen understanding of human nature make this book an essential read for those interested in exploring the psychological effects of political upheaval. Though set during a specific historical period, the themes it addresses have a timeless resonance. Overall, Balzac has crafted a powerful and thought-provoking narrative that stays with readers long after they have turned the final page.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Clara Bell and Others


To Monsieur Guyonnet Merville.

Is it not a necessity to explain to a public curious to know everything, how I came to be sufficiently learned in the law to carry on the business of my little world? And in so doing, am I not bound to put on record the memory of the amiable and intelligent man who, meeting the Scribe (another clerk amateur) at a ball, said, "Just give the office a turn; there is work for you there, I assure you." But do you need this public testimony to feel assured of the affection of the writer?



On the 22nd of January, 1793, towards eight o'clock in the evening, an old lady came down the steep street that comes to an end opposite the Church of Saint Laurent in the Faubourg Saint Martin. It had snowed so heavily all day long that the lady's footsteps were scarcely audible; the streets were deserted, and a feeling of dread, not unnatural amid the silence, was further increased by the whole extent of the Terror beneath which France was groaning in those days; what was more, the old lady so far had met no one by the way... Continue reading book >>

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