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The Duchesse De Langeais   By: (1799-1850)

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Honoré de Balzac's novel, The Duchesse De Langeais, is a captivating tale of love, passion, and social hierarchy set in 19th century France. Through intricate and detailed prose, Balzac weaves a story that explores the complexities of human desires and the devastating consequences of unrequited love.

The novel revolves around the central character, the beautiful and enigmatic Duchesse De Langeais. Her magnetic presence draws the attention of many aristocrats, including the protagonist, General Armand de Montriveau. Their encounters, filled with tantalizing chemistry and emotional intensity, form the heart of the narrative. Balzac's portrayal of their relationship is deeply insightful, capturing the subtle power dynamics between them and the desperation that stems from unfulfilled desires.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Balzac's writing is his ability to delve into the thoughts and emotions of his characters. Through his vivid descriptions and introspective passages, he uncovers the depths of their inner turmoil, bringing to light their darkest secrets and vulnerabilities. The reader becomes intimately acquainted with the internal struggles faced by the Duchess, Montriveau, and other supporting characters, making their journey all the more relatable and poignant.

Moreover, Balzac's attention to detail is awe-inspiring. His descriptions of the lavish Parisian society, their grand balls, and luxurious lifestyles transport the reader back in time, immersing them in the opulence and extravagance of the era. Every sentence is intricately crafted, painting a vivid picture of the characters' surroundings and allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the world of 19th century France.

Balzac's exploration of the societal norms and expectations of the time is another compelling aspect of the novel. The Duchess, a woman of noble birth, finds herself torn between societal constraints and her own desires. Balzac skillfully exposes the limitations imposed on women in that era and the immense pressure placed upon them to conform, shedding light on the often suffocating nature of societal norms.

While The Duchesse De Langeais is undoubtedly a captivating read, it does require patience from the reader. Balzac's style is verbose and dense, filled with intricate details and extensive character development. However, for those willing to invest their time and attention, the rewards are immense. Balzac's masterful storytelling and keen observations of human nature make this novel a thought-provoking and deeply satisfying literary experience.

In conclusion, The Duchesse De Langeais is a beautifully written novel that combines richly developed characters, intricate plotlines, and profound insights into human emotion. Balzac's masterful storytelling and his ability to capture the essence of 19th century France make this novel a timeless classic. Whether one is enthralled by tales of passionate love or fascinated by societal intricacies, this novel is sure to captivate and leave a lasting impression.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Ellen Marriage

Preparer's Note:

The Duchesse of Langeais is the second part of a trilogy. Part one is entitled Ferragus and part three is The Girl with the Golden Eyes. The three stories are frequently combined under the title The Thirteen.

To Franz Liszt


In a Spanish city on an island in the Mediterranean, there stands a convent of the Order of Barefoot Carmelites, where the rule instituted by St. Theresa is still preserved with all the first rigor of the reformation brought about by that illustrious woman. Extraordinary as this may seem, it is none the less true. Almost every religious house in the Peninsula, or in Europe for that matter, was either destroyed or disorganized by the outbreak of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars; but as this island was protected through those times by the English fleet, its wealthy convent and peaceable inhabitants were secure from the general trouble and spoliation. The storms of many kinds which shook the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century spent their force before they reached those cliffs at so short a distance from the coast of Andalusia.

If the rumour of the Emperor's name so much as reached the shore of the island, it is doubtful whether the holy women kneeling in the cloisters grasped the reality of his dream like progress of glory, or the majesty that blazed in flame across kingdom after kingdom during his meteor life... Continue reading book >>

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