Balzac's realism turned out to be smarter than Balzac himself - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

Balzac's realism turned out to be smarter than Balzac himself
Honore de Balzac

But it is no coincidence that they say: Balzac's realism turned out to be smarter than Balzac himself. The wise is the one who evaluates a person not according to his political views, but according to his moral qualities. And in the works of Balzac, thanks to the efforts of an objective depiction of life, we see honest republicans - Michel Chretien ("Lost Illusions"), Nizron ("Peasants"). Nevertheless, the main object of study of Balzac's work is not they, but the main force of today - the bourgeois, those very "angels of money" who have acquired the importance of the main driving force of progress and whose customs Balzac exposed, exposed in detail and not fussily, like a biologist , which explores the habits of a particular subspecies of animals. “In commerce, Monsieur Grand was like a tiger or a boa: he knew how to lie down, turn into a ball, look closely at your prey for a long time, and then rush at it; opening the trap of his purse, he swallowed another fate and lay down again, like a boa constrictor that digests food; He did all this calmly, coldly, methodically.

The increase in capital looks like something like an instinct in Grand's character: before his death, with a “terrible movement”, he grabs the golden cross of the priest, who bent over an unconscious person.

Another "knight of money" - Gobsek - acquires the meaning of a single god, in which the modern world believes. The expression "money rules the world" is vividly realized in the story "Gobsek" (1835). A small, inconspicuous, at first glance, man, holds the whole of Paris in his hands. Gobsek punishes and encourages, although he is fair in his own way: he can severely punish someone who neglects piety and through this gets into debt (Countess de Resto), or he can treat favorably, as, for example, a seamstress nicknamed Ogonyok.

People destroyed the old God, who led the feudal world and appointed kings, and created a new god, the Idol of Money, on whose behalf the world is ruled by Gobsek, Grand, and an outstanding criminal, "Napoleon of penal servitude", Jacques Collin (aka Vautrin, aka - Spanish abbot Carlos Herrera). Jacques Collin, under various names, acts in the novels "Father Goriot" (1834-1835), "Lost Illusions" (1837-1843), "Shine and Poverty of Courtesans" (1838-1847), in the play "Vautrin". Collen is a titanic character. It was allegedly carved out of a whole rock slab. And the results of his activities are also titanic: he destroys all manifestations of morality around him and turns the souls of people into deserts.

Balzac liked to repeat: “The historian itself should be French society. I can only serve as his secretary. These words indicate the material, the object of study of Balzac's work, but hush up the means of processing it, which cannot be called "secretary". On the one hand, Balzac relied in the course of creating images on what he saw in real life (the names of almost all the heroes of his works can be found in the newspapers of that time), but based on the material of life, he deduced certain laws according to which there existed (and, to unfortunately, there is a society). He did it not as a scientist, but as an artist. Therefore, the typification technique acquires such significance in his work (from the Greek typos - reflection). A typical image has a specific design (appearance, character, fate), but at the same time it embodies a certain trend,

Balzac created typical images in different ways. It could be aimed only at typicality, as, for example, in the "Monograph on Rentier", or it could sharpen individual character traits or create aggravated situations, as, for example, in the stories "Eugenia Grande" and "Gobsek". For example, here is a description of a typical Rentier: “Practically all individuals of this breed are armed with a reed or snuff box ... Like all individuals from the genus“ man ”(mammals), he has seven valves on his face and, most likely, owns a complete skeletal system .. "His face is pale and often bulbous, lacking the character that is his hallmark." But the never-heated fireplace in the house of a millionaire gobsek stuffed with spoiled canned food is, of course, a heightened feature, but it is this sharpness that emphasizes typicality, exposes the trend,

1834 - 1836 Balzac publishes a 12-volume collection of his own works, which is called "Etudes on the customs of the nineteenth century." And in the years 1840-1841, a decision was ripening to generalize all of Balzac's creative activity under the name "Human Comedy", which is often called the "comedy of money." The relationship between people in Balzac is mainly determined by monetary relations, but not only they were of interest to the author of The Human Comedy, who divided his gigantic work into the following sections: Studies on Customs, Physiological Studies and Analytical Studies.

"Etudes on Customs" are in turn divided into "Scenes of Private Life", "Scenes of Provincial Life", "Scenes of Political Life", "Scenes of Military Life", "Scenes of Rural Life". Thus, we have before us a vast panorama of the whole of France during the time of the primitive accumulation of capital. We see a huge living organism that is constantly moving due to the continuous movement of its individual organs. The feeling of constant movement and unity, the synthesis of the picture arises due to the characters that change (“through characters”). For example, we will meet Lucien Chardon for the first time in Lost Illusions, and there he will try to subjugate Paris, and in The Shine and Poverty of Courtesans we will see Lucien Chardon, whom Paris subjugated and turned into an uncomplaining instrument of the diabolical ambition of Abbé Herreri-Vautrin (more one through character).

In Père Goriot, we first meet Rastignac, a kind boy who came to Paris to get an education. And Paris provided him with an education - a simple and honest boy turned into a rich man and a member of the cabinet of ministers, he subjugated Paris, understood its laws and challenged him to a duel. Rastignac defeated Paris, but destroyed himself. He deliberately killed in himself a boy from the provinces, who loved to work in the vineyard and dreamed of getting a law degree in order to improve the lives of his mother and sister. The naive provincial has turned into a soulless egoist, because otherwise it is impossible to survive in Paris. Rastignac went through various novels of The Human Comedy and acquired the meaning of a symbol of careerism and the notorious "social success".

Maxime de Tray, the de Resto family constantly appear on the pages of different works, and we get the impression that there are no points at the end of individual novels. We are not reading collected works, we are looking at the panorama of life. "The Human Comedy" is a vivid example of the self-development of a work of art, which never diminishes the greatness of the work, but, on the contrary, gives it the strength provided by Nature. It is precisely such a powerful, far exceeding the personality of the author, that is the brilliant work of Balzac.