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Beatrix   By: (1799-1850)

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Beatrix by Honoré de Balzac is a captivating novel that delves into the complexities of love, passion, and the human condition. Set in 19th century France, Balzac takes us on a journey through the aristocratic society, filled with its intricate webs of social codes and personal intrigues.

The story revolves around the enigmatic and beautiful Beatrix, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a stern and possessive husband. Despite her unhappiness, Beatrix remains dutiful and loyal to her spouse, yearning for a love that seems forever out of reach. Balzac masterfully portrays her internal struggles, highlighting the torment of a woman torn between societal expectations and her own desires.

One of the strengths of Balzac's writing lies in his ability to create vivid and complex characters. Beatrix is depicted as a multi-dimensional woman, deeply flawed yet sympathetic in her search for fulfilment. Through her journey, we witness the destructive power of unrequited love and the consequences of societal constraints, as Beatrix's choices have far-reaching consequences for those around her.

Furthermore, Balzac's prose is elegant and evocative, painting a rich and detailed picture of the era. He skillfully navigates between scenes of opulent balls and lavish soirées and moments of intimate introspection, immersing the reader in the world he has created. The realism and attention to detail in his descriptions make the setting come alive, grounding the story in a tangible reality.

However, there are moments when the novel feels slightly slow-paced, as Balzac takes time to explore the intricacies of social customs and individual character dynamics. While this adds depth and complexity to the narrative, it may deter readers seeking a more fast-paced and action-oriented storyline.

Ultimately, Beatrix is a thought-provoking novel that explores themes of love, sacrifice, and societal expectations. Balzac's keen observations of human nature and his ability to craft compelling characters make this book worth reading. Despite its occasional slowness, Beatrix is a compelling tale that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley


It is somewhat remarkable that Balzac, dealing as he did with traits of character and the minute and daily circumstances of life, has never been accused of representing actual persons in the two or three thousand portraits which he painted of human nature.

In "The Great Man of the Provinces in Paris" some likenesses were imagined: Jules Janin in Etienne Lousteau, Armand Carrel in Michel Chrestien, and, possibly, Berryer in Daniel d'Arthez. But in the present volume, "Beatrix," he used the characteristics of certain persons, which were recognized and admitted at the time of publication. Mademoiselle des Touches (Camille Maupin) is George Sand in character, and the personal description of her, though applied by some to the famous Mademoiselle Georges, is easily recognized from Couture's drawing. Beatrix, Conti, and Claude Vignon are sketches of the Comtesse d'Agoult, Liszt, and the well known critic Gustave Planche.

The opening scene of this volume, representing the manners and customs of the old Breton family, a social state existing no longer except in history, and the transition period of the vieille roche as it passed into the customs and ideas of the present century, is one of Balzac's remarkable and most famous pictures in the "Comedy of Human Life... Continue reading book >>

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