Balzac found in Paris the kingdom of this world, and exulted in revealing it. “He hides nothing”, Proust marvels, “he says everything”. Whether even Paris, in his day, had as much energy of spirit as the preternatural Balzac did, can reasonably be doubted. There are ninety novels, large and small, in The Human Comedy, and they might have been two hundred had not overwork killed Balzac at fifty. His Paris was his own exuberant creation, rather as though Milton’s Satan and Shakespeare’s Falstaff had combined their personal energies into a social reality.
Bloom’s Literary Guide to Paris
by Mike Gerrard, edited by Harold Bloom