Honoré de Balzac

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Honoré de Balzac, detail from a daguerreotype by Louis-Auguste Bisson, 1842

Honoré de Balzac [ ɔnɔ'ʁe də balˈzak ] (born May 20, 1799 in Tours , † August 18, 1850 in Paris ) was a French writer. In literary stories, although he actually belongs to the romantic generation, he is seen as a triumvirate of great realists with Stendhal, 16 years older, and Flaubert, 22 years younger . His main work is the unfinished series of 88 titles, La Comédie humaine (German: The Human Comedy ), whose novels and stories attempt to paint an overall picture of society in France at the time.


Childhood and youth

Honoré Balzac (his maiden name) was, as a brother born in 1798 died in infancy , the eldest child of Bernard-François Balzac (1746–1829), a farmer's son from the Tarn department in southern France , and Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier (1778 –1854), a Parisian from a middle-class family. The father, who had already made it from a notary's clerk to a senior official's secretary before the revolution , had become secretary to a naval minister after 1789 and then a senior official in the administration of the revolutionary army. As early as 1780 he had his real name Balssa Frenchized to Balzac , which he liked to decorate with a de from 1803 at the latest . He had only married in 1797 when he was 50. His wife, apparently a pretty and educated person, was 19 when they married.

The mother gave the newborn Honoré as well as his sisters Laure and Laurence, who were born in 1800 and 1802, as wet nurses . In 1807, a few months before she gave birth to a son who had apparently been conceived out of wedlock, she sent her eight-year-old eldest to an oratorian boarding school in Vendôme ; a school friend was Auguste Barchou de Penhoën . From there, at the age of 13, stuck and ailing, he moved to a boarding school in Paris and attended the Lycée Charlemagne , again with little success . All in all, in retrospect, Balzac experienced his childhood and youth as joyless and developed a deep-seated resentment against his mother.

In 1814 the father, who had last been head of the hospital in Tours, got a good post in Paris and the family moved to the capital. Here Balzac finished his school days in 1816 and took a law degree at the Law School (École de Droit) . However, he also attended lectures at the Paris Faculty of Philosophy and Philology (Faculté des lettres) and at the Collège de France and began to put philosophical reflections on paper on the side. From 1817 he also worked by the hour as a typist and legal assistant, first with a lawyer (where he had the later comedy writer Eugène Scribe as a colleague) and then with a notary who was friends with his family.

The beginnings as a writer and first debts

At the beginning of 1819 he passed the baccalauréat en droit , the entrance examination for the last section of study before the license , the actual degree. After the summer lectures, however, he dropped out because he had decided to become a writer. After his father had agreed to finance two probationary years for him, Balzac moved into a small attic apartment and began to write. The result was all sorts of columnist and lyric material as well as fragments of an opera libretto and a tragedy.

In 1821 he met the more experienced author Auguste Lepoitevin. With him and under his pseudonym “Vellerglé” he produced several novels in the following years, but also tried his own, which he drew under the pseudonym “Lord R'Hoone” or “Horace de Saint-Aubin”.

In 1822 he made the acquaintance of 45-year-old Madame de Berny, who became his first lover and gave him a éducation sentimentale . She remained connected to him as a maternal friend until shortly before her death in 1836.

In 1823 Balzac tried again as a dramatist with the play Le Nègre , which was not accepted. Another foray into another genre, the epic poem Fœdora , was not finished. He also wrote reviews for the feature section littéraire of the young publicist Horace Raisson , with whom he also pursued other literary projects. After all, he was now making so much money with his pen that he was able to pay his parents 100 francs a month to board, lead a certain social life and travel to the country estates of aristocratic or upper-class hosts.

However, despite his diligently continuing novel production, he still did not achieve the breakthrough as an author he had hoped for. At the end of 1824 he therefore seems to have fallen into a depression . Even retrospectively, his youthful works have not achieved any validity, although they often deal with topics such as: B. the pursuit of recognition and money, and types designed, z. B. the energetic young climber who later became typical of him.

At the beginning of 1825 he met the Duchesse d'Abrantès through his sister Laure in Versailles , who entered into a relationship with him and gave him an insight into the world of contemporary nobility. His youngest sister, Laurence de Montzaigle, died in August at the age of 23, whose marriage in 1821 had been unhappy. In the autumn, Balzac began a slightly cynical and illusion-free marriage handbook for men who were still single: Physiologie du mariage , which he did not complete until 1829 and published anonymously.

Also in 1825, Balzac tried his hand at becoming the companion of a Parisian publisher and published an illustrated and annotated Molière and La Fontaine edition. Having got a taste for a publisher, in 1826 he bought a print shop from Mme de Bernys and, above all, from his mother, with a loan to which he added a type foundry in 1827. As early as 1828, however, as a result of an economic crisis spreading from England to France, he had to file for bankruptcy, cede the foundry to his son Mme de Bernys and close the printing shop. He remained debtor to his mother for life, who outlived his father († 1829) and himself. After all, in his capacity as publisher, he had been in contact with several authors from the Romantic School, including Victor Hugo and Alfred de Vigny .

The time of success

In the following years Balzac concentrated again on writing. In 1829 he finally had success with Le dernier Chouan, ou La Bretagne en 1800 (later revised and renamed Les Chouans, ou La Bretagne en 1799 ). It is a historical novel in the new style of Walter Scott , which portrays the tragic end of one of the last loyal resistanceists against the revolutionary regime with a young aristocrat as protagonist. Les Chouans was also the first work that Balzac drew with his name. He quickly put a “de” in front of it when the success of the Paris salons began to open to him.

In the next few years he led an extremely diverse and eventful existence. In 1830, in the year of the July Revolution , he founded a political magazine with the later newspaper magnate Girardin . In 1831 and again in 1832 he considered running for a member of parliament, but then limited himself to a role as a very active journalist, where he became the majority shareholder in a political and literary magazine in 1835, which, however, died in 1836. His political position shifted significantly to the right during these years, because in 1832 the pseudo-aristocratic bourgeoisie had found a connection to circles of legitimists through a noble friend, the Marquise de Castries, who continued to regard Charles X , who resigned in 1830, as a legitimate king and joined the new " Citizen King “Louis-Philippe refused.

In addition, Balzac traveled a lot to be guests in the summer residences of distinguished people or to follow one of the numerous, mostly married women with whom he aspired to or entertained relationships, such as Laure de Berny (1777–1836), Zulma Carraud (1796–1889 ); Laure Junot d'Abrantès (1784–1838), Olympe Pélissier (1799–1878), Claire de Maillé de La Tour-Landry (La duchesse de Castries, 1796–1861), Marie du Fresnay (1809–1892), Frances-Sarah Guidoboni-Visconti (1804–1883) and Caroline Marbouty (1804–1890). Apparently he also became the father of children born out of wedlock, namely in 1834 a Marie du Fresnay and in 1836 a Lionel-Richard Guidoboni-Visconti.

Comtesse Evelyne Hańska and her dog, 1835; Copy after
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller exhibited in Schloss Saché .

In 1832, the Polish Countess Ewelina Hańska began a long-term correspondence with Balzac. In September 1833 there was a first meeting between Hanska and Balzac in Neuchâtel, Switzerland , another meeting in Geneva in December and again in Vienna in 1835 .

After the success of the Chouans, adequately paid and increasingly recognized, Balzac wrote numerous short stories and novels, which as a rule initially appeared in continuation in magazines before they appeared in book form. Early on, he developed the habit of marketing several already printed works under group titles, for example the two-volume Scènes de la vie privée (with, among others, La Maison du chat qui pelote and Gobseck ) in 1830 , the Romans et contes philosophiques (with, among others, La Peau de chagrin ), in 1832 a first volume of Contes drôlatiques and in 1833 the two-volume Scènes de la vie de Province (with, among others, Eugénie Grandet ).

In October 1833 Balzac signed a publishing contract, according to which he had to create a three by four (twelve in total) volume collection of "scenes" from existing and yet to be written works, which should appear under the general title Études de mœurs au XIXe siècle . In 1833 he delivered two volumes of Scènes de la vie de province , and in 1834 he began the Scènes de la vie parisienne .

In the same year 1834, while writing one of his best novels, Le Père Goriot ( Father Goriot ), he had the idea of ​​recurring the characters of his narrative works written up to that point and future narrative works in order to achieve one with and around them to create a manageable world. Indeed, over the course of time, he created a universe of around 2,000 characters who were also supposed to be representatives of post-revolutionary French society and indeed convey a vivid idea of ​​the life of at least the contemporary bourgeois and aristocratic classes, including their domestics.

In line with this idea, when Balzac agreed a new complete edition of his existing and planned narrative oeuvre with a group of publishers in 1841 and opened it in 1842 with the first three volumes, the upper title La Comédie humaine . The individual novels and stories should not only be grouped into large groups ( Études philosophiques , Études analytiques and Études de mœurs ), but also into subgroups ( Scènes de la vie privée , etc.).

To realize this project, Balzac wrote obsessively over the next few years. His infernal work rhythm (often 15 to 17 hours a day), which he completed symbolically in a kind of monk's robe, and his enormous coffee consumption (up to 50 cups during working hours) became legendary. From 1840 he lived on Rue Raynouard in a building that is now accessible as the Maison de Balzac .

Balzac's extraordinary vitality and creativity were not limited to his literary activity as a narrator, journalist and occasional (always unsuccessful) playwright. Rather, he was a bon vivant who, despite his steadily growing debts, tried to maintain a luxurious lifestyle with a carriage, good clothing, elegant apartments and even a country house, and who lived a lavish social life. He also had lovers almost all the time until about 1843, and he repeatedly managed to bind women from the best of circles who were willing to make sacrifices and who were often willing to provide financial assistance.

Foundation of the Writers' Union

In 1838 he, Victor Hugo , Alexandre Dumas and George Sand founded the Société de Gens de Lettres , the first French writers' association. Balzac contributed the important basic draft, the Code littéraire de la Société des Gens de Lettres , which for the first time postulated the authors' copyrights to their works. Balzac had very personal reasons to get involved here, since after the publication of one of his works in France it was always reprinted in Belgium and distributed much cheaper in large editions throughout Europe without his getting a share of it. However, due to differences of opinion, he soon withdrew from the association.

The last few years

Balzac's tomb

By 1843 at the latest and increasingly in 1844, he began to have health problems due to his constant overexertion and excessive coffee consumption. However, he tried to numb her with work or to forget her while traveling with Mme Hańska, who from 1845 onwards became his steady partner, albeit never one who lived with him all the time. He toured France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland with her in three summers. He spent the winter of 1847/48 and the whole of 1849 with her at her Polish castle in Wierzchownia near Berditschew in what was then the Russian Empire (today Berdychiv in the Ukraine). However, his hope of being nursed back to health there was not fulfilled. On March 14, 1850 Balzac married his long-time partner Ewelina Hańska in Berditschew.

After several weeks of apparently exhausting return to Paris, Balzac died there on August 18, 1850. He was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris . Victor Hugo gave the funeral speech.

Despite several attempts (most recently in his absence in 1849), Balzac was not granted admission to the Académie française : His style, which indeed shows the haste with which he wrote, was considered too informal and therefore dubious by the professional literary criticism of the time . After all, Balzac was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1845 .

In all likelihood, his widow was getting more income from his writing than he had made during his lifetime. He used to reduce his fees, which were in principle quite decent, quite considerably by making so many improvements to the proofs (i.e. the proofs ) of his texts that the whole thing had to be set anew each time.

Even during his lifetime Balzac was portrayed several times by painters. Cartoonists also often targeted him. The most famous representation today is probably the statue that Auguste Rodin created between 1893 and 1897 and that can be seen in the Rodin Museum in Paris.

Balzac's work

The Comédie Humaine ( The Human Comedy ) was to become Balzac's life's work, but he could no longer complete it. “Only” 91 of the planned 137 novels and stories were completed.

Balzac combined the individual texts into a cycle by having many figures appear several times. With this literary innovation he wanted to create a system that corresponded to his intention to design a comprehensive (moral) painting of his time: “The immensity of a plan, which at the same time the history and the criticism of society, the analysis of its evils and the discussion embracing its principles, it seems to me that I am entitled to give my work the title under which it appears today: ›The Human Comedy‹ . ”(Balzac, Preface to Human Comedy)

Within this literary reflection of contemporary conditions, Balzac attributed anti-Jewish clichés to Jewish characters: Nucingen, one of the great bankers in Paris, is portrayed as greedy. He also has German roots, as also Fritz Brunner from Le Cousin Pons , attested to by Balzac beaucoup de juiverie ("a great deal of Jewish cunning / cunning").


In literary history, Balzac's narrative style is considered to be prototypical for the traditional novel “à la Balzac”; H. a novel with interesting protagonists who do not embody average types, an interesting and more or less purposeful plot as well as a clear predominance of the authorial narrative situation .

With his relatively unvarnished portrayal of social reality, Balzac shaped generations not only of French authors and prepared naturalism .

His principle of connecting a whole series of novels through a system of recurring characters was taken up by Émile Zola in his Rougon-Macquart cycle.



  • Cromwell , 1820
  • Le Nègre , 1823
  • Vautrin , 1840
  • Paméla Giraud , 1843
  • Les Ressources de Quinola , 1842
  • La Marâtre , 1848
  • Mercadet le faiseur , 1840 (premiered posthumously in 1851)

Youth works

Balzac published his early works under the pseudonyms Lord R'Hoone and Horace de Saint-Aubin. He did not recognize these novels even later and they do not belong to the Comédie humaine , in which motifs and people from these writings are taken up again.

  • Sténie , 1819
  • Folder , 1822
  • Le Vicaire des Ardennes , 1822 (Horace de Saint-Aubin)
  • L'Héritière de Birague , 1822 (Lord R'Hoone)
  • Clotilde de Lusignan , 1823 (Lord R'Hoone)
  • Annette et le criminel , 1824 (Horace de Saint-Aubin)
  • Le Centenaire ou les deux Beringheld , 1824 (Horace de Saint-Aubin)
  • Wann-Chlore , 1825 (Horace de Saint-Aubin)

La Comédie humaine

(Chronological order, assignment to the scenes in the article La Comédie humaine )

  • Le dernier Chouan ou la Bretagne en 1800 , Roman 1829 (Eng. The last Chouan or The Bretagne in 1800, 1841)
  • Physiologie du mariage , treatise 1829 (German Physiology of Marriage, 1842)
  • Adieu , novella 1830 (German Farewell, 1908)
  • Le bal de Sceaux , story 1830 (German: The Ball of Sceaux, 1900)
  • Étude de femme , story 1830 (German study of women, 1841)
  • Gobseck , story 1830 (German Gobseck, 1846)
  • La maison du Chat-qui-pelote , story 1830 (German: The house "To the ball-playing cat", 1845)
  • Une passion dans le désert , Novelle 1830 (Eng. A passion in the desert, 1908)
  • Petites misères de la vie conjugale , narrative 1830 (German: small troubles of married life, 1847)
  • Sarrasine , story 1830 (Eng.Sarrasine, 1912)
  • La vendetta , story 1830 (Eng. Vendetta, 1841–1846)
  • Une double famille , story 1830 (German: a double family)
  • La Paix du ménage , story 1830 (German marriage peace)
  • L'auberge rouge , story 1831 (The red hostel, 1924)
  • Le chef-d'oeuvre inconnu , story 1831 (German: The unknown masterpiece, 1925)
  • La peau de chagrin , Roman 1831 (German: the shagreen leather , 1841)
  • L'enfant maudit , story 1831 (Eng. The cursed child, 1831)
  • L'Élixir de longue vie , story 1831 (Eng. The Elixir of Life )
  • Les proscrits , narrative 1831 (Eng. The outlaws, 1836)
  • El Verdugo , story 1831 (German El Verdugo)
  • Jésus-Christ en Flandre , story 1831 (Eng. Jesus Christ in Flanders)
  • La bourse , story 1832 (German stock exchange, 1958)
  • Le Curé de Tours , story 1832 (German: The parish priest of Tours, 1924)
  • Le colonel Chabert , story 1832 (German Colonel Chabert, 1844)
  • La femme abandonnée , story 1832 (German: The abandoned woman, 1846)
  • La Grenadière , story 1832 (German: The Grenadiers, 1845)
  • Louis Lambert , Roman 1832 (German Louis Lambert, 1845)
  • Madame Firmiani , Roman 1832 (German Madame Firmiani)
  • Le Réquisitionnaire , Roman 1832 (German: The Soldier )
  • Maître Cornélius , Roman 1832 (German Master Cornelius)
  • L'illustre Gaudissart , story 1833 (Eng. The famous Gaudissart, 1846)
  • Le médecin de campagne , Roman 1833 (The country doctor, 1835)
  • Le Message , Roman 1833 (German: The Message)
  • Gaudissart II , Roman 1834 (German Gaudissart II)
  • Eugénie Grandet , Roman 1834 (German Eugénie Grandet, 1835)
  • La recherche de l'absolu , Roman 1834 (Eng. The search for the absolute, 1841–1846)
  • Le Père Goriot , Roman 1834/35 (German father Goriot, 1835)
  • Histoire des treize , stories 1843 (German story of the thirteen, 1909)
    • Ferragus , story 1834 (German Ferragus)
    • La duchesse de Langeais , story 1834 (German: The Duchess of Langeais)
    • La fille aux yeux d'or , story 1835 (German: the girl with the golden eyes)
  • Les Marana , story 1834 (Eng. The Maranas)
  • Le lys dans la vallée , Roman 1835 (Eng. The Lily in the Valley, 1845)
  • Un drame au bord de la mer , story 1835 (German: A drama on the beach, 1910)
  • Les paysans , Roman 1835 (Eng. The farmers, 1923)
  • Séraphíta , story 1835 (Eng.Seraphita, 1836)
  • Le contrat de mariage , Roman 1835 (The marriage contract, 1846)
  • Melmoth réconcilié , story 1835 (German Melmoth)
  • Facino Cane , story 1836 (Facino Cane, 1912)
  • La vielle fille , Roman 1836 (The old maid, 1838)
  • La Messe de l'athée , story 1836 (German: The Mass of the Denier of God)
  • L'Interdiction , story 1836 (German: The incapacitation)
  • Sur Catherine de Médicis , story 1836 (German Catherine de Medici)
  • Gambara , story 1837 (German Gambara, 1845)
  • Illusions perdues , Roman 1837–1843 (Eng. Lost Illusions, 1846)
  • La Muse du département , story 1837 (Eng. The Muse des Départements).
  • Massimilla Doni , story 1837.
  • La femme supérieure ( Les Employés ), Roman 1837 (The superior woman, 1843)
  • Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau , Roman 1838 (German history of the greatness and decline of César Birotteau, 1842)
  • La maison Nucingen , story 1838 (German Das Haus Nucingen, 1845)
  • Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes , Roman 1838–1844 (German glamor and misery of courtesans , 1845)
  • Le cabinet des antiques , Roman 1839 (German: the antiques cabinet , 1923)
  • Le curé de village , Roman 1839 (The country pastor, 1841)
  • Les secrets de la princesse de Cadignan , story 1839 ( Eng . The secrets of the Princess of Cadignan, 1920)
  • Béatrix ou les amours forcés , Roman 1839–1845 (German Beatrix or Die enforced love, 1840)
  • Une fille d'Ève , story 1839 (German: an Eve's daughter)
  • Autre étude de femme , story 1839 (German second study of women)
  • Pierre Grassou , story 1839
  • Un prince de la bohème , story 1840 (German: A prince of the bohème)
  • Pierrette , Roman 1840 (German Pierrette, 1840)
  • Z. Marcas , story 1840 (German Z. Marcas, 1923)
  • La fausse maitresse , story 1841 (Eng. The false beloved, 1844)
  • Une ténébreuse affaire , Roman 1841 (Eng. A dark affair, 1841)
  • Ursule Mirouët , Roman 1841 (German Ursula Mirouet, 1843)
    • Neuübers. Ursule Mirouët by Nicola Denis. Matthes & Seitz, Berlin 2017
  • Mémoires de deux jeunes mariées , epistolary novel 1841/1842 (German memoirs of two young women, 1844)
  • Albert Savarus , Roman 1842 (German Albert Savarus, 1925)
  • La femme de trente ans , Roman 1842 (German: The woman of thirty years, 1845)
  • La rabouilleuse , Roman 1841/42 (German The Crab Fisherwoman, 1846)
  • Modeste Mignon ou les trois amoureux , Roman 1844 (German Modeste Mignon or The Three Lovers, 1846)
  • Un début dans la vie , story 1844 (German: a beginning of life)
  • Un homme d'affaires , story 1844 (German a businessman)
  • Honorine , story 1845
  • Un épisode sous la Terreur , story 1845 (German episode from the time of the reign of terror)
  • La cousine Bette , Roman 1846 (German cousin Lisbeth, 1910)
  • Les comédiens sans le savoir , story 1846 (Eng. The involuntary comedians, 1923)
  • Le cousin Pons ou les deux musiciens , Roman 1847 (German: Vetter Pons or The Two Musicians, 1919)
  • L´envers de l'histoire contemporaine , Roman 1842 ( Eng . The other side of contemporary history, 1967) (directed by J. Robert)
  • Le Député d'Arcis , story 1854 (German: The deputy from Arcis)
  • Les Petits Bourgeois , story 1856 (German: The petty bourgeoisie)

Other works outside the Comédie humaine

  • Voyage de Paris à Java , 1830
  • La Comédie du diable , 1831 (German: Die Komödie des Teufels. Der Pakt. Translated from the French by Ulrich Esser-Simon. Marix Verlag, Wiesbaden 2018, ISBN 978-3-7374-1078-6 .)
  • La Chine et les chinois , 1842
  • Les contes drolatiques , 1832–1837 (German crazy stories )
  • Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux , 1840–1842
    • Les Amours de deux bêtes offerts en example aux gens d'esprit
    • Voyage d'un lion d'Afrique à Paris, et ce qui s'ensuivit
    • Guide-âne à l'usage des animaux qui veulent parvenir aux honneurs
    • Voyage d'un moineau de Paris à la recherche du meilleur government
  • Revue parisienne (magazine, three issues, 1840)

Film adaptations (selection)

  • Adieu , filming: 1812 , Germany 1923 (directed by J. Berger)
  • Gobseck , film adaptations: Germany 1923 (directed by P. Rist), USSR 1936 (directed by K. Eggert)
  • L'auberge rouge , film version: France 1922/23 (directed by Jean Epstein ), France 1951 (directed by Claude Autant-Lara )
  • Le chef-d'oeuvre inconnu , film version : La belle noiseuse , France 1992 (directed by Jacques Rivette )
  • La peau de chagrin , film adaptations: France 1909 or 1911 (directed by M. Carré), Slave of desire , USA 1923 (directed by GD Baker), Die unheimlichen Wünsche , Germany 1939 (directed by H. Hilpert), La piel de Zapa , Argentina 1943 (Director B. Herr)
  • Le colonel Chabert , film versions: France 1910 (directed by André Calmettes ), Germany 1920 (directed by E. Burg), Italy 1920 (directed by C. Gallone), Mensch ohne Namen , Germany 1932 (directed by Gustav Ucicky ), France 1943 (directed by R. Le Hénaff), BR Germany 1956 (directed by V. von Collande), BR Germany 1967 (TV, directed by L. Cremer), France 1994 (directed by Yves Angelo)
  • Les contes drolatiques , film adaptation: The maddened stories , BR Germany 1968 (directed by J. Zachar)
  • Eugénie Grandet , film adaptations: The Conquering Power , USA 1921 (directed by Rex Ingram ), Italy 1946 (directed by M. Soldati), Mexico 1952 (directed by E. Gómez Muriel), Unser liebes Fräulein Grandet , BR Germany 1965 (TV directed by G. Fleckenstein )
  • Le Père Goriot , film adaptations: USA 1915, France 1921/22 (directed by Jacques de Baroncelli ), Paris at Midnight , USA 1926 (directed by E. Mason Hopper), France 1944 (directed by R. Vernay), career in Paris , GDR 1951 ( Directed by Georg C. Klaren )
  • La duchesse de Langeais , film adaptations: France 1910 (directed by André Calmettes ), The Eternal Flame , USA 1922 (directed by F. Lloyd), Germany 1926 (directed by Paul Czinner ) als Liebe , France 1942 (directed by Jacques de Baroncelli ), Ne touchez pas la hache , France 2007 ( Jacques Rivette director )
  • La fille aux yeux d'or , film version: France 1961 (directed by IG Albicocco)
  • Un drame au bord de la mer , film adaptation: L'homme du large, France 1920 (directed by Marcel L'Herbier )
  • Séraphíta , adaptation: Himself as Herself , USA 1966/67 (directed by GJ Markopoulos),
  • Histoire de la grandeur et de la décadence de César Birotteau , film adaptations: France 1911 (directed by E. Chautard), Italy 1921 (directed by A. Fratelli)
  • Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes , film adaptation: The glamor and misery of courtesans , Germany 1927 (directed by Manfred Noa )
  • Béatrix ou les amours forcés , film adaptation: Beatrice , Italy 1920 (directed by Herbert Brenon )
  • Pierrette , adaptation: Gli amori di Dafne , Italy 1970 (directed by O. Brazzi)
  • La fausse maitresse , film version : France 1942 (directed by A. Cayatte)
  • La rabouilleuse , film adaptations: France 1943 (directed by F. Rivers), Les arrivistes , France 1960 (directed by L. Daquin), Trübe Wasser , GDR 1960 (directed by L. Daquin)
  • La cousine Bette , adaptations: France 1928 (directed by M. de Rieux), France 1966 (TV directed by Y.-A. Hubert), USA 1998 (directed by Des McAnuff)
  • Le cousin Pons ou les deux musiciens , film version: France 1924

Settings (selection)

  • Séraphíta , Ruggiero Leoncavallo , Symphonic poem, 1894
  • La peau de chagrin , opera in seven pictures by Fritz Geißler based on a libretto by Günther Deicke , 1977/78
  • Colonel Chabert , opera by Hermann Wolfgang von Waltershausen, first performance January 18, 1912 in Frankfurt am Main

German total editions (selection)

  • Complete works , 82 volumes, Basse-Verlag, Quedlinburg 1841–1846
  • The Human Comedy , 16 volumes, Insel, Leipzig 1908–1911
  • Collected works , 44 volumes, Rowohlt, Berlin 1923–1926, new edition in 40 volumes Hamburg 1952–1955. Reprint 40 + 1 volumes, Diogenes, Zurich 1977, new edition 1998
  • The Human Comedy Ed. Fritz-Georg Voigt, thin print edition in 20 volumes, Aufbau-Verlag, Berlin and Weimar 1961–1985
  • The Human Comedy , Ed. Ernst Sander, 12 volumes, Goldmann, Munich 1971–1972, paperback edition btb, Berlin 1998


  • Honoré de Balzac: A reflection of my desire: Report of a trip to Russia 1847. Friedenauer Presse, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-932109-85-0 .
  • Léon Gozlan : Balzac in slippers . Heimeran, Munich 1967; Munich: dtv 1969.
  • Joachim Küpper : Balzac and the Effet de réel. An investigation based on the text levels of the "Colonel Chabert" and the Curé de village . BR Gruner, Amsterdam 1986. (= Supplements to Poetica, 17), ISBN 90-6032-213-4 .
  • Joachim Küpper: Aesthetics of the representation of reality and evolution of the novel from the French Late Enlightenment to Robbe-Grillet. Selected problems on the relationship between poetology and literary practice . Steiner, Stuttgart 1987. (= Supplements to the magazine for French language and literature, 13), ISBN 3-515-04881-2 .
  • Bettina Licht: Balzac. Life and work of the novelist . Probst, Mainz-Kostheim 2002, ISBN 3-935718-83-7 .
  • André Maurois : Prometheus or the life of Balzac . Econ, Düsseldorf 1966 (also as Das Leben des Honoré Balzac. A biography . Diogenes, Zurich 1985, ISBN 3-257-21297-6 ).
  • Anka Muhlstein: Monsieur Balzac's oysters. A delicate biography , transl. Grete Osterwald, Arche, Zurich 2011, ISBN 978-3-7160-2610-6 .
  • Ralf Nestmeyer : French poets and their homes . Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-458-34793-3 .
  • Gaëtan Picon: Honoré de Balzac . 8th edition, Rowohlt, Reinbek 2000, ISBN 3-499-50030-2 .
  • Wolfgang Pohrt : Honoré de Balzac. The secret agent of discontent . 3rd edition, Tiamat, Berlin 2012.
  • Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve : Balzac. The search for the unconditional. in: Literary Portraits. Translator and master Rolf Müller; Outs. And In. Katharina Scheinfuß. Dieterich'sche Verlagbuchhandlung , Leipzig 1958; Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft WBG, Darmstadt 1958, pp. 251-302.
  • Claudia Schmölders (ed.): Balzac. Life and work . Adult new edition. Diogenes, Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-257-22661-6 .
  • Laure de Surville: My brother Honoré de Balzac. The sister reports . Voco, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-926566-93-0 .
  • Barbara Vinken : Balzac / Zola: Hysterical Madonnas - New Mothers, in: Gender difference in interdisciplinary discussion. Ed. Doris Ruhe, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1998, pp. 117-134.
  • Winfried Wehle : Litterature des Images. Balzac's Poetics of Scientific Imagination . In: Gumbrecht / Stierle / Warning (eds.): Honoré de Balzac. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 1980 ( Uni-Taschenbücher series UTB, 977), pp. 57–81. online (PDF; 1.1 MB).
  • Reto Zöllner: “Constructive role models”: Structural principles at Balzac, in: Romanische Studien , Nr. 2 (2015), pp. 183–194, online: romanischestudien.de .
  • Stefan Zweig : Balzac. A biography . Fischer TB, Frankfurt 1994 ISBN 3-596-22183-8
  • Stefan Zweig: Three masters: Balzac - Dickens - Dostojewski . The builders of the world , Volume 1, Insel, Leipzig 1920.

Web links

Commons : Honoré de Balzac  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Honoré de Balzac  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Honoré de Balzac  - Sources and full texts (French)

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. Hugo Friedrich: Three classics of the French novel: Stendhal, Balzac, Flaubert . Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1980.
  2. ^ Stefan Zweig: Balzac . S. Fischer Verlag, 1954, p. 507.
  3. When realizing the dramas, he also called on employees, as in Vautrin (1840) his friend and colleague Laurent-Jan ; Edouard Ourlic and Auguste-Guillaume de Belloy quickly jumped off. Cf. Mauriac: Prometheus or the life of Balzac . Econ, 1966, p. 369 f.
  4. Code littéraire proposé par M. de Balzac in the Bibliothèque électronique de Lisieux.
  5. ^ Honoré de Balzac in the Find a Grave database . Retrieved September 13, 2017 (English). .
  6. Bernd Kortländer (ed.): Balzac and Germany - Germany and Balzac . Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2012, p. 20.
  7. Denis in the translator database of the VdÜ, 2019
  8. The book Balzac en pantoufles , published in 1856 , with insights into Balzac's private life.
  9. Also about Jean de La Fontaine, Molière, Alain-René Lesage, Diderot, Madame de Staël, Jean de La Bruyère, Victor Hugo and Pierre-Jean de Béranger. The text about Balzac in French online as a scan. First, La recherche de l'absolu. , the author signs CA (= Sainte-Beuve) here. Series: Poètes et romanciers modern de la France, 16. Revue des Deux Mondes , 1834, vol. 4, pp. 440–458. The text created a permanent rift between the two.
  10. Great biography that remained a fragment. The life of Balzac is described in detail, the description of the work remained unfinished.