Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Madame Firmiani" by Honore de Balzac (1832, a short story component of The Human Comedy)

I am for now working my way at more or less random through Balzac's grand Comedie Humaine.  There are ninety one works under this rubric but many are short stories or novellas so a full reading of it is not as challenging a thought as seems at first.  I would like to do this but for now I am just reading. 

"Madame Farmiani" (estimated reading time is twenty minutes) has three main characters, Madame Farmiani, a very beautiful voluptuous aristocratic woman, a young man of twenty something in love with her and his uncle.  The man "selling point" of this story in 1832 was probably the long fairly detailed reverie on the face, hair, toilette, and body of Madame Farmiani.  Her husband is rich though no guest at one of her at homes has ever seen him.  A young man, the heir to an uncle's considerable estate, falls in love with her. The uncle hears of this and goes to Paris to investigate and is very taken with her.

The story ends happily, maybe the ending seems a bit pandering to mass tastes.  The story is worth the read for the descriptions of the woman, the aristocratic interiors, and the narrator's running commentary on the motives and characters of the people in the story.

If you wanted to dig into this story much could be made about the attitude toward women shown by the narrator.  Of course this is Balzac and money plays a big role in the story.

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