“Honoré de Balzac was one of the greatest storytellers who ever lived, and now at last he has a biography that tells his story in a way Balzac himself would have lovedwith all the ambiguities, the flaws, the illusions and myths, the realities of street and salon, the loves and affairs, and above all the imperishable stories that still have the power to make us laugh out loud in one minute and weep in the next. Robb has given us a splendid tale, meticulously researched, lovingly put together, and beautifully told. Those who know Balzac will not be able to put his book down; those who don’t know him will rush from this biography to the literary treasures created by the writer Robb describes for us in prose that does justice to its subject.” Richard Marius, author of Thomas More: A Biography
In the first major English biography of Honore de Balzac for over fifty years, Graham Robb has produced a compelling portrait of the great French novelist whose powers of creation were matched only by his self-destructive tendencies. As colorful as the world he described, Balzac is the perfect subject for biography: a relentless seducer whose successes were as spectacular as his catastrophes; a passionate collector, inventor, explorer, and political campaigner; a mesmerizing storyteller with the power to make his fantasies come true. Balzac's early life was a struggle against literary disappointment and poverty, and he learned his trade by writing a series of lurid commercial novels. Robb shows how Balzac's craving for wealth, fame, and happiness produced a series of hare-brained entrepreneurial schemes which took him to the remotest parts of Europe and into a love affair with a Polish countess whom he courted for fifteen years by correspondence. Out of these experiences emerged some of the finest novels in the Realist tradition. Skillfully interweaving the life with the novels, Robb presents Balzac as one of the great tragi-comic heroes of the nineteenth century, a man whose influence both in and outside his native France has been, and still is, immense.
About the Author
Best-selling author Graham Robb was born in Manchester in 1958 and is a former Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. He is an acclaimed historian and biographer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He has won the Whitbread Biography Prize and the Heinemann Award for Victor Hugo, as well as the Ondaatje Prize and Duff Cooper Prize for The Discovery of France. His book Parisians was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. He lives on the Anglo-Scottish border.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A good modern biography, but I still prefer Stefan Zweig's.