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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Domestic Peace" a short story by Honore de Balzac (1839, a component of The Human Comedy)

My Comedie Humaine read through project is nearing close and has slown down.  I have read all of most famous works.  Balzac wrote very fast at a speed powered by fifty cups of coffee a day, legend has it.  A good bit of his shorter works are kind of formula stories about the sexual and romantic antics of the wealthy.  "Domestic Peace" is set in 1809, at a fancy dress ball at which Napolean and Josephine are expected.  It is a place where everyone wants to be at their most glamourus.  In one very interesting segment we learn how the high death rates of the young aristocrats in the French army has stimulated the sexual appetites of women.  Interesting to me, this was the precise thing Elizabeth Bowen said about the Blitz.

There is a mysterious woman at the ball who has refused offers to dance.  One man bets his friend he can get her to dance with him.   Carried through the story is the idea of live at first sight and immediate commitment to marriage we find in other works of Balzac and the period generally.  A quarrel between the mysterious woman and her husband and a deception revealed close out the story.

There are the usual long descriptions  of people and clothing.   The atmosphere of the party is well done.  

"Domestic Peace" is a decent story.  

Mel u

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