Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright, born in 1799 in Tours, France. His father was Secretary to the King’s Council and a Freemason, and his mother came from a wealthy family of haberdashers. Balzac had difficulty with the strict nature of his early schooling, and was often sent to punishment in a small isolated cell. This caused early health problems that plagued him throughout his life—exacerbated by his rigorous writing schedule. Balzac is viewed as one of the founders of realism in European literature, creating complex characters who are flawed, morally ambiguous, and absolutely human. Many of his works have been translated into other languages, and made into movies, and he influenced many other well known writers, including Gustave Flaubert, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens.
This bilingual edition is designed to assist those learning French. The original French text appears on the right-hand pages of the book, with the corresponding English translation on the right-hand pages.