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The last few works by Balzac I have read have been works mostly for those reading through The Human Comedy. Even mediocre Balzac works will have good descriptions so I do not mind the lesser works. The Red Inn, a brief novella is a step back toward the Balzac we love, who creates full bodied characters we can visualize.
Balzac for sure stereotypes people based on where they are from. "The Red Inn" is structured as a German stopped over at The Red Inn responding to a request of a group of visitors that he tell them a scary story. There is a feeling of good natured ribbing in Balzac's description of the German. German's are portrayed as very serious no-nonsense types and we are surprised to find this German enjoyable company. He begins a story about two young surgeons who just joined the German army. The two men, friends, are assigned to a unit and hope to advance in rank. Of course they are looking for adventures along the way. The two men end up sharing a room with a third man who tells them he has a huge amount of gold coins in the bag under his pillow and he feels very secure sleeping in the room with two army surgeons. Now the story does get very exciting and scary. The man is found dead with his money missing and one of the two surgeons is blamed for the crime, a capital offense. He is sure he did not do it but he has vague doubts he might have some how had a mental lapse and did kill the man but cannot recall it and he fears his friend framed him. Balzac does a great job with this party of the story. In the last chapter Balzac goes into the efforts of a third man to prove the surgeon innocent and save him. I felt the narrative power waned here, but over all a good work.
I will next read Balzac's three part novel based on the life of Catherine de Medici.
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