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Farewell by Honoré de Balzac
By: (1799-1850)

In "Farewell" by Honoré de Balzac, readers dive into the tumultuous world of love, betrayal, and societal expectations. The story follows the tragic romance between the wealthy Mme de Beauséant and the dashing young officer, Gen de Montriveau. Balzac expertly weaves a tale of passion and heartbreak, showcasing the complexities of human emotions and relationships.

The characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional, each grappling with their own desires and struggles. Mme de Beauséant's internal conflict between her love for Gen de Montriveau and her duty to uphold her family's reputation is particularly poignant. Balzac's writing is rich and evocative, immersing readers in the lavish world of 19th-century French society.

Overall, "Farewell" is a captivating and beautifully-written novel that delves deep into the intricacies of love and loss. Balzac's exploration of human nature and the constraints of societal norms makes for a compelling read that will stay with readers long after they finish the final page.

Book Description:

In his startling and tragic novella Farewell (‘Adieu’), Balzac adds to the 19th century’s literature of the hysterical woman: sequestered, confined in her madness; mute, or eerily chanting in her moated grange. The first Mrs Rochester lurks in the wings; the Lady of Shalott waits for the shadowy reflection of the world outside to shatter her illusion. Freud’s earliest patients will soon enter the waiting-room in their turn.

Whilst out hunting two friends come across a strange waif-like woman shut up in a decaying chateau which one of them dubs “the Palace of the Sleeping Beauty”. Soon we are dragged back to the terrible masculine reality of the 1812 retreat of Napoleon’s army from Moscow and the grotesque massacre that was to traumatise the heroine, parting her from her lover.

Their reunion is more desperate still, as the earlier event is recreated in a bizarre and vain attempt to root out madness and compel the return of happiness…

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