Droll Stories by Honoré de Balzac

Contes Drolatiques
Droll Stories, Collected from the Abbeys of Touraine



This is a book of the highest flavour, full of right hearty merriment, spiced to the palate of the illustrious and very precious tosspots and drinkers, to whom our worthy compatriot, Francois Rabelais, the eternal honour of Touraine, addressed himself. Be it nevertheless understood, the author has no other desire than to be a good Touranian, and joyfully to chronicle the merry doings of the famous people of this sweet and productive land, more fertile in cuckolds, dandies and witty wags than any other, and which has furnished a good share of men of renown in France.
Honoré de Balzac


As you might suspect from the above quote (Prologue, Volume 1), though humorous, many of the stories are a bit risqué. They are set in the sixteenth century and written in old style language. Balzac’s original plan was to write one hundred of these short stories, but only thirty were completed at the time of his death. Generally available in three groups of ten, the final ten were completed and published in 1837.


Droll Stories — Volume 1, The First Ten Tales:

 The Fair Imperia
The Venial Sin
The King’s Sweetheart
The Devil’s Heir
The Merrie Jests of King Louis the Eleventh
The High Constable’s Wife
The Maid of Thilouse
The Brother-in-arms
The Vicar of Azay-le-rideau
The Reproach

Read it here


Droll Stories — Volume 2, The Second Ten Tales:

The Three Clerks of Saint Nicholas
The Continence of King Francis the First
The Merry Tattle of the Nuns of Poissy
How the Chateau D’Azay Came to Be Built
The False Courtesan
The Danger of Being Too Innocent
The Dear Night of Love
The Sermon of the Merry Vicar of Meudon
The Succubus
Despair in Love

Read it here


Droll Stories — Volume 3, The Third Ten Tales:

Perseverance in Love
Concerning a Provost Who Did Not Recognise Things
About the Monk Amador, Who Was a Glorious Abbot of Turpenay
Bertha the Penitent
How the Pretty Maid of Portillon Convinced Her Judge
In Which It Is Demonstrated That Fortune Is Always Feminine
Concerning a Poor Man Who Was Called Le Vieux Par-Chemins
Odd Sayings of Three Pilgrims
The Fair Imperia Married

Read it here


Now make ye merry, my hearties, and gayly read with ease of body and rest of reins, and may a cancer carry you if you disown me after having read me.

These words are those of our good Master Rabelais, before whom we must also stand, hat in hand, in token of reverence and honour to him, prince of all wisdom, and king of Comedy. – Honoré de Balzac


8 comments on “Droll Stories by Honoré de Balzac

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    Yes, will do, when I have finished Zola and Maupassant!


  2. Thank you for this wonderful and voluminous site. Would you be able to point me to some annotations of Contes Drolatiques? I am dying to know why someone should be “as little thought of as the Pope’s slippers,” to take just one example. Balzac is life itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Dagny. I’ll also keep digging. What a pleasure for the holiday season. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

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