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, December 27, 2017

“Z. Marcas” - A Short Story by Honore de Balzac - A Component of La Comedie Humaine - 1840

There are many inaccurate claims about the size of Balzac’s Grand cycle of literary works, La Comedie Humaine, making it seem simply to large to undertake.  In fact many book bloggers could finish it in under three months.

Here is the breakdown 

45 Novels

25 Short Stories

21 Novellas.

I have as of now completed 82 of the 91 works.

Included in La Comedie Humaine are about five novels you will rightfully find on 100 greatest novels lists, several very good novellas and short stories.  You will also find works you are bored with but in every work there is something of real value.  Balzac is the ultimate chronicler of Paris, from the highest levels of society, exposing shady dealings, to the poorest of Paris.  He is a genius at descriptions, knows the cost of everything and the reputation of every district.  His cultural influence is simply huge.  The only practicable  way to read him is in an E book.  The disadvantage is the translations are old.

When he feels like it Balzac is a master of compression.  In “Z. Marcas” we learn, through the eyes of two  impecunious Parisian students about their mysterious neighbour.  Marcas lives in poverty.  We gradually learn he has a doctorate in law and was an advisor to a powerful government minister.  He and the students become friends.  

I hope to finish this project by April 1, 2018.


Fred said...

Mel u,

I'm impressed. THAT is a reading project. I've read parts of it, but to take on all seems overwhelming.

Mudpuddle said...

you're the only person i ever will have heard of who read the whole thing... remarkable achievement!