Balzac Sighting – Claude Izner



A rather sneaky one from In the Shadows of Paris (Le Léopard des Batignolles) by Claude Izner:

Kenji, clean-shaven and smelling faintly of lavender, walked past the Théâtre Français. He liked to cut through the gardens of the Palais-Royal where he communed with the departed souls of Restif de la Bretonne, André Chénier, Musset, Stendhal and Cagliostro. Could any of them tell him whether the mysterious manuscript at the Bibliothèque National was his? Lucien de Rubempre whispered to him to stop chasing after illusions and enjoy the moment.


I especially enjoyed the above since it mentioned a character rather than the author’s name. A more ordinarily found one is this one from later in the book:

‘Have you forgotten? You’re supposed to give the Balzacs and the Diderots a polish and arrange them in the window.



Balzac Sighting – Barbara Hambly


Another mention by Barbara Hambly!


She leaned to withdraw the folded sheets. “We follow families, names, neighborhoods for years, sometimes decades. To us, chains of events are like the lives of Balzac’s characters, or Dickens’. The nights are long.”

Traveling with the Dead (James Asher #2) by Barbara Hambly




A marvelous resource for tracking the lives of Balzac’s characters is Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine by Anatole Cerfberr and Jules François Christophe, free from Project Gutenberg.

Balzac Sighting – Benjamin January Quoting Balzac

Graveyard Dust (1999) is Barbara Hambly’s third mystery/suspense novel featuring Benjamin January. It is set in 1830s New Orleans. The character lived in Paris for a number of years coinciding with Balzac’s life and residence in Paris.


January had been a musician in Paris for ten years. Every tale and anecdote and bit of gossip he’d ever heard there–not to mention substantial blocks of Stendhal and Balzac–flowed easily to his tongue.


Benito Pérez Galdós (1843 – 1920)

In Spanish literature, Benito Pérez Galdós is often considered second only to Cervantes.


Fortunata and Jacinta, Translation and Introduction by Agnes Moncy Gullón, Penguin Classics:

During the early years of his literary life (1865 to 1870), Galdós became acquainted with the works of the two writers who by his own admission influenced him the most: Charles Dickens and Honoré de Balzac. . . . Before going to France, Galdós had read some Balzac, but it was along the banks of the Seine that his enthusiasm grew; he began to buy the novels one by one, eventually acquiring and reading the complete works. He acknowledged Balzac and Dickens his masters even during those first years, when he was waivering between journalism and the theater.

Balzac Sighting – Bohemians of the Latin Quarter


Amidst this resurrection of intelligence, Bohemia continued as in the past to seek, according to Balzac’s expression, a bone and a kennel.

The above is from the Preface of Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (Scènes de la vie de bohème) by Henry Murger which was the inspiration for a play, two operas, numerous movies and a jazz album.

A further Balzac-related quote is found in Chapter XVIII, Francine’s Muff:

Jacques belonged to a club styled the Water Drinkers, which seemed to have been founded in imitation of the famous one of the Rue des Quatre-Vents, which is treated of in that fine story “Un Grand Homme de Province.” Only there was a great difference between the heroes of the latter circle and the Water Drinkers who, like all imitators, had exaggerated the system they sought to put into practice. This difference will be understood by the fact that in Balzac’s book the members of the club end by attaining the object they proposed to themselves, while after several years’ existence the club of the Water Drinkers was naturally dissolved by the death of all its members, without the name of anyone of them remaining attached to a work attesting their existence.


Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (Scènes de la vie de bohème) by Henry Murger is available in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg in both French and an English translation.



Balzac Sighting – Barbara Hambly


A Free Man of Color (1997), the first in Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series, is set in New Orleans in the early 1830s.


Whites didn’t understand how news traveled so quickly, being too well-bred to be seen prying. Having set themselves up as gods and loudly established their own importance, they never ceased to be surprised that those whose lives might be affected by their doings kept up on them with the interest they themselves accorded only to characters in Balzac’s novels.


A Free Man of Color (Benjamin January #1) by Barbara Hambly

Balzac Sighting – Ivan Turgenev

This sighting is in a book by Russian Ivan Turgenev who spent many years in France and was a close friend of Gustave Flaubert. The Varvara mentioned in the quote is a wayward wife.


Varvara Pavlovna proved to be a great philosopher; she had a ready answer for everything; she never hesitated, never doubted about anything; one could see that she had conversed much with clever men of all kinds. All her ideas, all her feelings revolved round Paris. Panshin turned the conversation upon literature; it seemed that, like himself, she read only French books. George Sand drove her to exasperation, Balzac she respected, but he wearied her; in Sue and Scribe she saw great knowledge of human nature, Dumas and Feval she adored. In her heart she preferred Paul de Kock to all of them, but of course she did not even mention his name. To tell the truth, literature had no great interest for her.


The above quote is from the Constance Garnett translation titled A House of Gentlefolk. Project Gutenberg has three English translations available free in numerous formats:
A House of Gentlefolk (translated by Constance Garnett)
Liza, A Nest of Nobles (translated by  W.R.S. Ralston)
A Nobleman’s Nest (translated by Isabel F. Hapgood)