Childhood and youth of Honore de Balzac - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

Childhood and youth of Honore de Balzac
Honore de Balzac

On May 20, 1799, in the ancient French city of Tours, on the street of the Italian army, in the house of the assistant to the mayor and trustee of charitable institutions, Bernard Frarsois, who changed his plebeian surname Balsa to the noble way de Balzac, a boy was born. The mother of the future writer, Laura Salambier, who came from a family of wealthy merchants, named the baby Honore and ... entrusted him to the nurse. Balzac recalled: “I didn’t have time to be born, when I was sent to the village and given to be raised by a wet nurse; the family did not remember my existence for three years; when I returned to my father's house, I was so unhappy and abandoned that I aroused the involuntary compassion of those around me.

The Balzac family lived for many years with the dream of “really” getting rich, a dream inspired by the time of the “Age of Gold”, however, never realized. Constant conversations in the family about money echoed in the mind and actions of little Honore.One day Salambier's grandparents, who live in Paris, wished to meet their grandson. A short trip to Paris was the most remarkable event of the first years of Honore's life. The grandson made a good impression on the old people, and later the grandmother told everyone a funny story, the heroes of which were her grandson and a dog named Mush. When little Honore saw that there was no Mush among the household members who were watching the then fashionable novelty - a magic lantern, he "shouted in an authoritative tone:" Wait! here, Mush, and look; it won't cost you anything, Grandpa will pay!"

When Honore was eight years old, he was given the Vendôme College. There he developed a passion for reading. At breaks, when his peers frolic carelessly, he sat under a tree and enthusiastically read the French enlighteners, especially Diderot and Rousseau, preferring their books to theology and official textbooks. It is not surprising that he soon gained a reputation as a lazy and mediocre student, but the punishment cell, where he was a frequent guest, did not frighten him, where he reflected on his destiny. Balzac later recalled: “As a child, I decided to become a great man and, hitting myself on the forehead, I said:“ There is something here! I seemed to feel that a thought was ripening in me that was worth expressing, a system worthy of being substantiated, knowledge worthy of being expounded.

In 1814, when the family moved to Paris, Balzac continued his studies at private schools. In 1816, young Honore was enrolled as a free student at the Faculty of Law. Three years later, he was awarded a bachelor's degree in law. Study, at the urgent request of his father, had to be combined with practical work in the office of the attorney Merville. While working as a clerk, he became acquainted with many family dramas on the basis of the division of property, which were later reflected in his works. At the same time, secretly from his parents, Balzac attended the Arsenal library and lectures on the history of literature at the Sorbonne, the oldest French university, dreaming of a writing career.