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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Domestic Peace" by Honore de Balzac (1830, a short story, a component of The Human Comedy)

"Domestic Peace" is set at a high society Paris party in 1810. The aristocrats of Paris, those who survived the terror, are all in a flutter waiting for Napolean to arrive.  A quarrel with Josephine has delayed him. There is a great depth of irony in the aristocrats all waiting for Napolean, an ex-corporal from Corsica, a man many at the party probably privately thought was not fit to work in their stables.

The best thing about the party is Balzac's masterful descriptions of the clothing and the elegant toilette of the women.  Of course everyone is evaluating the probable wealth of other party goers and the parents of marriage age children have their eyes open for prospects.  There is an interesting revenge plot on a cheating spouse.  

I want to briefly talk about the two English women who first made Balzac's Comedie Humaine available in English in reasonable translations.  I will talk more in another post on how the first English edition was published.

Clara Bell (1835 to 1927) was fluent in French, English, German, Russian, Dutch and Spainish.  

Ellen Marriage (1865 to 1946) was also a polyglot.  Eleven works in the comedy were considered too risqué for a woman to translate and for those she used the name "James Waring".  

Just like Constance Garnett, these two very hard working translators had a big behind the scene impact on the Anglophone literary world.  


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1 comment:

Mystica said...

Thanks for the post.