i just like saying...
March 14, 2006 2:05 AM   Subscribe

Honore de Balzac. Inspired by Dante, a contemporary of Flaubert, a profilic author of an enormous body of work published under the title La Comédie humaine. Oh, and pulp smut. "I am not deep," the author once said, "but very wide." Free Gutenburg downloads.
posted by loquacious (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
His name sounds like "ball sack."
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:29 AM on March 14, 2006


I just finished The Fatal Skin a couple weeks ago. I found it to be very pertinent to the world today. Strange how that happens.
posted by tev at 2:34 AM on March 14, 2006


His name sounds like "ball sack."

Especially if you don't speak French, which you don't.
posted by Wolof at 3:42 AM on March 14, 2006


This is an interesting Meta phenomenon, where there is an inverse ratio between the quality of the post and the quality of the comments.
Having said that I am trying to imagine what part of the English speaking world pronounces Ball Sack like Balzac, so far I'm coming up with Pirates and farmers in Devon with larygospasm.

Fab post Loquacious, so much I didn't know that I'm embarassed and can only snark at my fellow mefites!
posted by Wilder at 3:52 AM on March 14, 2006


Especially if you don't speak French, which you don't.

French chicks got hairy pits, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:21 AM on March 14, 2006


What was it Mayor Curley, the " I am not deep, but very wide" comment that flicked your wick? Just lay off the Krispy Kremes, man. Oh, and thanks for proving my hypothesis
posted by Wilder at 4:43 AM on March 14, 2006


Honoré de Balzac is a yummy name, almost as good as Pepé Le Pew, certainly more elegant than his original, Honoré Balssa.

ah, the amazing Gutenberg galaxy. What a treat to find Balzac's books online now, even if the translation of this one is second-rate, almost funny. As a kid doing my 'A' Levels in London we had to study both Balzac (Le curé de Tours (The Vicar of Tours, 1832), and Flaubert (Trois contes (Three Tales), Un Cœur simple, La Légende de Saint-Julien l'Hospitalier and Hérodias, 1877).

At that time I loathed Balzac for describing human beings at their petty worst and adored Flaubert for his austere mysticism. But over the years it was Balzac's writing that popped into my thoughts on all kinds of occasions, part of that inner literary soundtrack while experiencing life; and Flaubert's writing faded for me.

I look forward to re-reading Balzac's work now. Thanks loquacious.
posted by nickyskye at 4:58 AM on March 14, 2006


One of my favorite sculptures of Rodin, in fact.
posted by Busithoth at 5:18 AM on March 14, 2006


I love Balzac. So much so that I wrote my 200 page bachelor's thesis on La Comedie Humaine. Thanks for posting this. A little trivia for you: Balzac was known to consume 20-30 cups of espresso per day, which makes sense if you consider how prolific a writer he was. He was also reputed to be a lothario of clooney-esqe proportion, which - if you have ever seen a picture of him - indicates he some some other skills as well.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 5:35 AM on March 14, 2006


What was it Mayor Curley, the " I am not deep, but very wide" comment that flicked your wick? Just lay off the Krispy Kremes, man. Oh, and thanks for proving my hypothesis

It's 'cause I'm an American, right? I must be a Philistine and deathly fat! Guess what! I'm mostly literate and my ass is half the size of an irishwoman's*.

I'd tell you all about the time I read Cousin Bette for a college class and pretend that it shook me to my soul. But unfortunately I have to take my black turtleneck out of the dryer and get down to the cafe.

*Assumes Irishwoman has had children. And try and find one that hasn't.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:35 AM on March 14, 2006


Heh, you said ball sack.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2006


Mayor Curley au café.
posted by nickyskye at 6:48 AM on March 14, 2006


WOW I've read Scenes from Private Life, Found it quite good and a great look into the Paris of Old, One of my past romances tried to get me to read "La Cousin Bette" But i found it to be a bit more romance novel like for my tastes, I never liked the gothic novel scene. I've been to france and still read the name as Ball Sack (but in a good way)
posted by Elim at 6:56 AM on March 14, 2006


Honor the Ballsack.

That guy's name is a barometer of people's sense of humor.
posted by dios at 7:16 AM on March 14, 2006


There are several sculptures by Rodin of Balzac at the Rodin Museum. The one that Busithoth linked to, and then there's a nude that I love because of the man's posture. Definitely one of my favorite works of art for sheer attitude.

I took some better pictures than Busithoth and I have posted in these links, but don't have them uploaded yet. Curses.
posted by JeremyT at 7:36 AM on March 14, 2006


While you're reading about this era and these persons don't leave out Mr. Mee by Andrew Crumey.
posted by nofundy at 7:46 AM on March 14, 2006


Honoré Balssa? As in the crap they make model airplanes out of? Man, that is lame.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:47 AM on March 14, 2006


"I am not deep," the author once said, "but very wide."

What most people who have not seen Rodin's sculptures of him don't understand is that he meant this literally.

His name sounds like "ball sack."

I will leap to Mayor Surley's defense here and confirm that yes, his name does indeed sound like "ball sack." That's what made it such a great titillating joke in the otherwise G-rated Music Man when the town gossips insisted Marian must have slept around, the proof being in her choice of books... "Chaucer! Rabelais! and Baaalllllllllzac!"

Honoré Balssa? As in the crap they make model airplanes out of?

This is wrong. In point of fact his name was originally Honoré de Testiqules.
posted by soyjoy at 7:50 AM on March 14, 2006


I love that sculpture, too, JeremyT. There's just something haunting about the other sculpture, it struck a nerve, I guess. (and I didn't take those photos. The photos I personally took in the Rodin museum were piss-poor (most, anyway). I love the place, though.
posted by Busithoth at 7:53 AM on March 14, 2006


The Gutenberg translations suck (unless your a Victorian). There are a few good modern translations, the best I have read is Pere Goriot, trans. by Burton Raffel. If your in a hurry, read the famous opening chapter with Amazon's "Look Inside", Balzac defined Realism in the description of the Parisian boarding house.
posted by stbalbach at 8:04 AM on March 14, 2006


La Comédie humaine -- texte intégral de l'édition originale
*
Balzac's Paris
posted by matteo at 8:10 AM on March 14, 2006


Tom Wolfe on Balzac:
Writing fiction, he said, was on the whole different from writing nonfiction - but in some ways it was the same. 'I've always contended that the same thing is necessary for good nonfiction and good fiction - namely, reporting,' he said. 'The 19th-century novels used to do this as a matter of course. Balzac was constantly leaving his desk to see how a proper wedding was conducted in the countryside.'
posted by matteo at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2006


Mayor Curley, you used to be funny. What happened?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:50 AM on March 14, 2006


Wow, JeremyT, what's with that giant traffic cone up his um, er... hmm.

And don't be dissin on Mayor Curley's bod. I've seen a pic of him nekkid (from the back) and he is a fine piece o manflesh. Too bad he's taken.
posted by beth at 8:52 AM on March 14, 2006


beth, that wasn't his back.

and that's no traffic cone.
posted by Busithoth at 10:28 AM on March 14, 2006


Mayor Curley, you used to be funny. What happened?

I got jumped for a throwaway comment. Then I had to resort to throwing poop. Then you got Irish and some of the poop hit you.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2006


Everyone's favorite author to shout at improv players.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:42 AM on March 14, 2006


Balzac was constantly leaving his desk to see how a proper wedding was conducted in the countryside.

In the movie his part was played by Vince Vaughn.
posted by Sparx at 1:07 PM on March 14, 2006


If you like French lit., check out Beaudelaire's "The Flowers of Evil".
posted by Packy_1962 at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2006


I love Balzac, and I prefer the early translations (as my French is barely above nonexistent), but I just don't think I can ever be satisfied reading books online. There's just something about curling up in a big chair in front of the fire with a big hardbound book that makes it seem so much more accessible.

That said, I've been on a bit of a plague reading trip lately, (Decameron, etc.), and this will will make a nice change of pace. I don't think I've read him since grad school. Thanks!
posted by dejah420 at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2006


dejah420, Decameron is great, I recently read it in 10 days. When your done might I suggest Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, another Tuscan writer whose style owes much to Boccaccio and the Tuscan story-telling tradition. Little know trivia, even though Boccaccio saw the Black Death personally, his description was riped from Historia gentis Langobardorum of Paul the Deacon (circa 800), of Justinian's Plague (which continued in Europe till about 750).
posted by stbalbach at 7:44 PM on March 14, 2006


read the famous opening chapter with Amazon's "Look Inside", Balzac defined Realism in the description of the Parisian boarding house.

Thanks stbalbach, I just did. What a treat. Wonderful. Liked the translation.

La Comédie humaine -- texte intégral de l'édition originale

Wow matteo excellent resource, just what I wanted, to read Le curé de Tours in the original. I really see now the richness of his writing. His conversational tone has a wink in it, like I am his personal guest and he's whispering to me the interesting details of the scene in front of us that minute. It's neat how books one read years ago are enjoyed differently later in life.
posted by nickyskye at 9:12 PM on March 14, 2006


great nickyskye! I think the chapter is a good base to understanding the commonly seen phrase Balzacian - not that Balzac can be summarized so easily, but because most people have never read all 30+ novels of the La Comédie, but a few key works, from which they think they understand Balzac enough to say "Balzacian".
posted by stbalbach at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2006


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