First entitled Glory and Unhappiness, this short novel (La Maison du Chat-Qui-Pelote) appeared in 1830 (written in 1829), and subsequently edited several times. Opening the series of Private Life (Scènes de la Vie Privée), it is also the first volume of Comédie Humaine and announces many of the Balzac's later themes.
The novel's main theme is one of mésalliance : A misfit in marriage. An artist (a painter), Théodore, falls in love with, or with the idea of what he takes for, Augustine, the daughter of a conservative cloth merchant. The marriage turns to be a most unhappy one, where the misfit in marriage reveals itself more as a misfit in minds and souls than a misfit of rank or social standing as it is generally conceived, and ends in a tragic way.
In the novel Balzac depicts scrupulously a Parisian neighborhood that he knows well, the Petit Lion street and neighborhood of Saint Denis street, where he lived in his youth work period.
The novel itself depicts a situation for the first time: there are simply milieus that don't mix up, both in real terms, but also figuratively. This idea may be seen as an important step towards the realization that the marriage can no longer be defined on the basis of roles that husbands and wives fulfill, if a moral has to be stated for this work of Balzac. A similar theme can be found in Le Bal de Sceaux of Balzac.
Project Bilingual (A division of Wolf Pup Books) is a continuing project making available great original French writers' texts along with their English translation. This edition, which offers after every original language paragraph its translation, makes both grammar and vocabulary checks as painless as possible. Idiomatic forms that could be overlooked can be easily detected.
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About the Author
Honoré de Balzac (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. In 1832, he conceived a project of writing a collection of books that would describe all aspects of society. Originally called Etudes des Mœurs (Study of Mores), it eventually became known as La Comédie Humaine, which became a slice of French life in the years after the fall of Napoleon. Honoré de Balzac's attention to detail and realist representation of society earns him the title of one of the founders of realism in European literature. His characters are complex, and not easy to pigeonhole (like real life). He influenced writers such Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and Italo Calvino.