The Chairfather: Père Lachaise part III
Our next host is three down on the left
[5 SECOND PAUSE]
If there are any teenage boys listening, get it out of your systems now. The man's name is Balzac. With a pronounced 'z' if you can muster it. Once more? Balzac. OK, now that that's out of the way…
Honoré Balzac grew up in that pre-Haussmannian Paris, where life for most was tough and rough. He turned away from his bourgeois family's chosen path of law studies, considering the profession phony, saying
"I am hungry and nothing is offered to appease my appetite”
Becoming a writer sated him.
In the first two years of his new occupation, he wrote at least 5000 words per day. That's the equivalent of 6x War and Peace. Like his contemporary Dickens, he described the complex realities of life and the many shades of human nature. Difficult personalities abound, and the few who do well are corrupt.
"Behind every fortune is a crime," wrote Balzac.
Most authors would be satisfied to pen a single masterpiece novel in their lifetime. Balzac wove all his stories into one, covering the 30 years of his writing life. His goal was to show the entire civilization of an era. Nearly 100 books in all traced the experiences of thousands of characters over time. In this he anticipated today's popular long-running series, and prequels, as he wrote new stories covering the youth of beloved characters.
His funeral was attended by “almost every writer in Paris” including Alexandre Dumas. While giving the eulogy, Victor Hugo slipped into the grave. Human Comedy indeed.
Balzac's legacy inspired many to create. Rodin sculpted him, Nadar illustrated him, and countless authors named Balzac as their principal influence, including blatantly Proust, who we'll meet near the end of this tour.
Backtracking now leaving Casimir Delavigne on your left, continue to hug the road to your left.