The Bureaucrats

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Overview

About the Series: Each Norton Critical Edition includes an authoritative text, contextual and source materials, and a wide range of interpretations-from contemporary perspectives to the most current critical theory-as well as a bibliography and, in most cases, a chronology of the author's life and work.

A cynical and panoramic view of 19th century Paris.

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Editorial Reviews

Jack Helbig
Best known for his epic series, La Comedie humaine, Balzac dabbled in the theater. Sadly always debt-ridden, he found playwriting did not pay nearly as much or as quickly as novel writing, so he abandoned the stage. At his death in 1850, the incredibly prolific writer--La Comedie humaine consists of 91 stories and novels--left only five complete plays. Of these, "Mercadet", which wasn't produced in Balzac's lifetime, is the best known, mostly because Samuel Beckett may have based his ever-absent Godot on a minor character in "Mercadet" named Godeau. This obscurity is a shame because "Mercadet" is a charming, likable, if rather light, comedy. True, its plot sounds like a bad sitcom episode: manipulative, money-mad financier Mercadet spins an ever more complicated net of lies to separate investors from their money and gets tangled in the web himself. The play is redeemed, however, by Balzac's gift for creating interesting, original, multilayered characters. In this edition, Robert Cornthwaite's translation is graceful and witty enough to make even the most time-worn plot twists seem fresh.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810109735
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 12/14/1993
  • Series: European Classics Series
  • Edition description: Translated
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Honoré de Balzac (French pronunciation: [ɔ.nɔ.ʁe d(ə) bal.zak] ; 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon. Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multifaceted characters, who are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. His writing influenced many subsequent novelists such as Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Benito Pérez Galdós, Marie Corelli, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino, and philosophers such as Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx.

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