Honore de Balzac
Novelist, born in Tours, WC France. He studied at the Collège de Vendôme and the Sorbonne. From 1819 to 1830 he led a life of frequent privation and incessant industry, incurring a heavy burden of debt which harassed him to the end of his career. His first success was Les Chouans (1829, The Chouans). After writing several other novels, he formed the idea of presenting in La Comédie humaine (1827–47, The Human Comedy), a complete picture of mankind, employing a cast of over 2000 characters. Among the masterpieces which form part of his vast scheme are Le Père Goriot (Father Goriot), Les Illusions perdues (Lost Illusions), Les Paysans (The Peasants), La Femme de trente ans (The Thirty-Year-Old Woman), and Eugénie Grandet, in which detailed observation and imagination are the main features. His industry was phenomenal, writing 85 novels in 20 years, whose theme was predominantly the corrupting power of money and the over-riding force of self-interest. His work did not bring him wealth. During his later years he lived principally in his villa at Sèvres. In 1849, when his health had broken down, he travelled to Poland to visit Eveline Hanska, a rich Polish lady, with whom he had corresponded for more than 15 years. In 1850 she became his wife, and three months later, Balzac died.
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