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The Two Brothers   By: (1799-1850)

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In "The Two Brothers" by Honoré de Balzac, readers are transported to the tumultuous world of early 19th-century France. This compelling story delves deep into the complex lives of two brothers, as they navigate their individual paths and grapple with the consequences of their choices.

Balzac masterfully weaves together themes of greed, love, and ambition within a society driven by power and social status. The contrasting characters of the two brothers, Philippe and Joseph Bridau, provide a captivating exploration of the dichotomy between good and evil, as well as the extreme lengths individuals will go to achieve their desires.

Philippe, the elder brother, is a talented and aspiring artist who finds himself captivated by the allures of the bohemian lifestyle. His journey takes him through the vibrant Parisian art scene, where he becomes entangled with questionable characters and indulges in a life of debauchery. Balzac skillfully portrays Philippe's inner turmoil, as he wrestles with his artistic ambitions and the harsh realities of survival.

In stark contrast, Joseph embraces a different path, embodying order, discipline, and dedication. With a strong sense of duty and moral values, he pursues a career in the military and climbs the ranks with determination. Balzac deftly captures Joseph's internal struggles, particularly when faced with the corrupt forces that try to hinder his progress. It is through his unwavering integrity that Joseph emerges as a beacon of hope within the novel.

Throughout the narrative, Balzac's rich and vivid descriptions transport readers into the heart of 19th-century France. His attention to detail and deep understanding of the societal dynamics during this time period create an immersive experience for readers, painting a vivid picture of the characters' surroundings and the challenges they face.

While the novel delves into the lives of the two brothers, it also provides a broader social commentary on the corrupt underbelly of French society. Balzac uncovers the web of political intrigue, bribery, and manipulation that seeps into every aspect of life, presenting a scathing critique of the societal structure of the time.

"The Two Brothers" is a masterful portrayal of human ambition, the pursuit of success, and the consequences that follow. Balzac's ability to capture the complexities of his characters is truly remarkable, inviting readers to reflect on their own moral compass and the choices they make in their own lives. As the narrative unfolds, the reader finds themselves deeply invested in the fate of the two brothers, eagerly turning the pages to discover their ultimate destinies.

In "The Two Brothers," Balzac's literary prowess shines through, leaving readers with a profound sense of the human condition and the timeless struggles we face. This novel is an exceptional addition to the canon of literature, highlighting Balzac's ability to craft vivid characters, explore societal dynamics, and ultimately weave a captivating tale that will resonate with readers long after the final page.

First Page:


By Honore De Balzac

Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley


To Monsieur Charles Nodier, member of the French Academy, etc.

Here, my dear Nodier, is a book filled with deeds that are screened from the action of the laws by the closed doors of domestic life; but as to which the finger of God, often called chance, supplies the place of human justice, and in which the moral is none the less striking and instructive because it is pointed by a scoffer.

To my mind, such deeds contain great lessons for the Family and for Maternity. We shall some day realize, perhaps too late, the effects produced by the diminution of paternal authority. That authority, which formerly ceased only at the death of the father, was the sole human tribunal before which domestic crimes could be arraigned; kings themselves, on special occasions, took part in executing its judgments. However good and tender a mother may be, she cannot fulfil the function of the patriarchal royalty any more than a woman can take the place of a king upon the throne. Perhaps I have never drawn a picture that shows more plainly how essential to European society is the indissoluble marriage bond, how fatal the results of feminine weakness, how great the dangers arising from selfish interests when indulged without restraint... Continue reading book >>

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