"...the duty of a woman, who wishes for domestic peace, compels her to bury sufferings so keen as hers at the bottom of her heart, and without a complaint." Day after day, a poor but beautiful young seamstress toils away by her window, waiting for the mysterious Monsieur Noir: a gentleman she hopes will be the answer to all her prayers . . . A ball given at the height of Napoléon's power is the scene of a wager between army comrades to see who will be the first to dance with an unknown lady in blue . . . Who is Madame Firmiani? Is she a beautiful society lady? A dangerous woman, a siren? Or is she perhaps nothing more than an innocent and charming hostess who gives delightful tea parties? The rich uncle of a young man who has come under her sway is determined to find out . . . A Second Home, Domestic Peace, Madame Firmiani, A Study of Woman, The Imaginary Mistress, and A Daughter of Eve are the six works of The Human Comedy presented in this volume, all of which share adultery and suspicion as their primary themes.
La Comédie Humaine, left unfinished at the time of Balzac’s death, is a vast literary work comprising nearly one hundred short stories, novellas, and novels set in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars during the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy. Throughout, Balzac utilizes nineteenth century French society to examine humanity and the human experience with all its attendant virtues, vices, and peculiarities.
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was one of France’s most prolific and influential writers, and is generally considered to be one of the first and greatest of the literary realists. In his lifetime, he tried and failed at a number of professions, including that of legal clerk, printer, publisher, and as a businessman who engaged in a number of abortive ventures. These experiences, as well as numerous affairs with admiring ladies―many of them from the nobility―and an unsuccessful run for public office, provided him with a wealth of material for his writing, in which he was able to create some of the most memorable characters in French literature.