Story Descriptions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very brief description of each story.

(Still in progress)

About Catherine de’ Medici (Sur Catherine de Médicis)
Three individual studies. Both historical and imaginary characters are presented.

Adieu/Farewell
While visiting an old friend, Philip de Sucy sees a woman who brings back memories of a terrible experience in Siberia many years ago during the Napoleonic wars. It is the same woman, but seemingly totally insane now. Her uncle has despaired of recalling her mind and is willing to let de Sucy make an attempt.

Albert Savarus
From the story:
“I told our advocate to secure a new pleader, to whom we owe our victory, a wonderful man . . . . . He spent five or six nights over it; he devoured documents and briefs; he had seven or eight interviews of several hours with me,” continued Monsieur de Grancey, who had just reappeared at the Hotel de Rupt for the first time in three weeks. “In short, Monsieur Savaron has just completely beaten the celebrated lawyer whom our adversaries had sent for from Paris. This young man is wonderful, the bigwigs say. . .”

The Alkahest (La recherche de l’Absolu)
M. Claes has a more than ordinarily happy home life with his wife and four children until something grasps his imagination and he begins his study of chemistry. Suddenly, even though he is physically at home, in his lab, his family feels almost abandoned. First published in 1834, La Recherche de l’Absolut is a masterful study of a man’s obsession and the effect it has, not only on him, but on his family. It has also been translated as The Quest of the Absolute.

Another Study of Woman (Autre Ètude de femme)
From the story:
At a late party three men each relate an experience. . . . At Paris there are almost always two separate parties going on at every ball and rout. First, an official party, composed of the persons invited, a fashionable and much-bored circle. . . . The mistress of the house then waylays a few artists, amusing people or intimate friends, saying, “Do not go yet; we will have a snug little supper.” These collect in some small room. The second, the real party, now begins, a party where, as of old, every one can hear what is said, conversation is general, each one is bound to be witty and to contribute to the amusement of all. . . . .

At the Sign of the Cat and Racket (La Maison du Chat-qui Pelote)
Monsieur Guillaume began as a draper’s clerk and after marrying the daughter of his employer eventually succeeded to the business. He and his wife have two daughters. The scene opens with a sketch of his business; he now has an assistant who is smitten with one of his daughters. As he surveys the opening of the shop for a new day of business he notes a stranger whose eyes are intent upon his shop, or possibly on the upper floor where the family dwells.

The Atheist’s Mass (La Messe de l’Athée)
In this very short work Bianchon happens to see Desplein (“the master-surgeon, the atheist at heart, the worshiper by chance”) after a mass at Saint-Sulpice. He discovers from the sacristan that Desplein founded this particular mass over twenty years ago. Curious, Dr. Bianchon mentions this to Desplein and is told a wonderful story, a story of great faith, friendship and hope.

A Bachelor’s Establishment (Un Ménage de garçon)
This novel, also published as La Rabouilleuse, has been translated into English under the titles of The Two Brothers and The Black Sheep. The two brothers are Philippe and Joseph Bridau. Five years prior, Philippe, a dashing young officer, was Napoleon’s aide-de-camp but he is now on half pay. Joseph is a poor aspiring artist. Their mother Agathe Bridau, a widow, has combined her resources with those of her aunt, Madame Descoings and set up a household in Paris. The story takes place in Paris and in Issoudun, one hundred miles south of Paris where Agathe’s well-to-do brother, Jean-Jacques Rouget, lives. Some years before M. Rouget took a young peasant girl into his household. She is now grown and rules not only the household but the old gentleman who loves her passionately. She has fallen in love with Max, a thorough rake who calls himself the “Grand Master of the Order of Idleness.” His main interest in Flore is the financial gain she might be able to obtain from M. Rouget.

The Ball at Sceaux (Le Bal de Sceaux)
Young Emilie de Fontaine is considering what she would prefer in a husband. At nineteen she is the darling of her relatives and tyrannizes ruthlessly over them. Having decided that she will settle for nothing less than the son of a peer of France, she treats her admirers with scorn but is intrigued by a handsome young man she sees at the ball and is unable to discover his identity.

Béatrix
This novel opens in the old town of Guerande which still enclosed by mighty walls and possesses moats still full of water. The houses have not changed and the streets are as they were one hundred years in the past. It is the family seat of the de Guenics. The old society of the town gather here to play cards and gossip, often about the younger generations. The son of the house, Calyste, is going to visit one of the main objects of this gossip and we learn of this person’s past. While on this visit, Calyste hears of Beatrix de Rochefide who is coming to Guerande on a visit. Beatrix has a popular salon in Paris.

The Black Sheep (see A Bachelor’s Establishment)

The Brotherhood of Consolation (L’Envers de l’Histoire Contemporaine)
It is September, 1836, and a man of about thirty is standing on the quay in the very heart of old Paris, a rather desolate and melancholy spot. The dejected young man on the quay is Godefroid and, in his misery, he has just been mistaken for a man of forty. One of Balzac’s secret-society stories. It has also been translated under the title of The Seamy Side of History.

Bureaucracy (Les Employés)
From the story:
In Paris, where men of thought and study bear a certain likeness to one another, living as they do in a common centre, you must have met with several resembling Monsieur Rabourdin, whose acquaintance we are about to make at a moment when he is head of a bureau in one of our most important ministries. . . . From these general signs you will readily discern a family man, harassed by vexations in his own household, worried by annoyances at the ministry, yet philosopher enough to take life as he found it . . . . The life of this man was marked by certain mysterious peculiarities.

The Cabinet of Antiquities (See The Collection of Antiquities)

Cesar Birotteau (See The Rise and Fall of Cesar Birotteau)

The Chouans (Les Chouans)
Balzac knew very early that he wanted to be a writer. He struggled and learned while writing hack work under pseudonyms. Les Chouans is the first novel which he considered of enough worth to acknowledge. The novel portrays the tale of a Royalist uprising but it is more than just a military story. It is also rich with romance. Balzac spent several weeks staying with family friends in the area in which he set Les Chouans. In addition to studying the area physically, he listened to tales of the actual uprisings in the district from people who had been living at the time.

Christ in Flanders (Jésus-Christ en Flandre)
Placed by Balzac in his Etudes Philosophiques (Philosophical Studies). The opening paragraph:
At a dimly remote period in the history of Brabant, communication between the Island of Cadzand and the Flemish coast was kept up by a boat which carried passengers from one shore to the other. Middelburg, the chief town in the island, destined to become so famous in the annals of Protestantism, at that time only numbered some two or three hundred hearths; and the prosperous town of Ostend was an obscure haven, a straggling village where pirates dwelt in security among the fishermen and the few poor merchants who lived in the place.

The Collection of Antiquities (Le Cabinet des Antiques)
This novel is set in Alencon after The Old Maid. While it does stand on its own, a history of some of the characters is presented in The Old Maid. Victurnien d’Esgrignon is an only son. His mother died in childbirth and he was raised, and much spoiled, by his father and aunt. This aunt, Armande, turned down several marriage proposals to devote herself to raising her nephew. One of her suitors became quite bitter and wanted to avenge himself upon the family. While living in Paris, Victurnien squandered eighty thousand francs without their knowledge but an old family retainer was able to cover for him at the time.

Colonel Chabert (Le Colonel Chabert)
Colonel Chabert is not a military book as the title might indicate. It takes place after the Colonel, who has been presumed dead in a battle, returns to Paris to try to take up the broken strands of his life. Having been so seriously injured that he was actually buried in a mass grave, his recuperation and return to Paris have taken so long that his wife has now remarried.

Comedians Without Knowing It (See The Unconscious Comedians)

The Commission in Lunacy (L’Interdiction)
Madame d’Espard and her husband have lived apart for most of their married life. The two children reside with their father. In this short work Madame d’Espard tries to get her husband declared incompetent so that she can control his money as well as her own. Popinot is the very astute judge originally assigned to the case–too astute to suit Madame d’Espard who intrigues to have him removed. Madame d’Espard appears in numerous stories of The Human Comedy.

The Conscript (See The Recruit)

The Country Doctor (Le Médecin de Campagne)
Doctor Benassis is the title character in a poor village a few leagues from Grenoble. A chance visitor is enchanted with the small, exceedingly well-run village and intrigued by the unparalleled popularity of Doctor Benassis. Slowly he learns the history, not only of the village but of the man himself, including why he buried himself in such a remote area. The Country Doctor is one of the isolated books of The Human Comedy. It is set far from Paris and without other characters of The Human Comedy passing through the story here and there. It does, though, have an interesting recounting of a tale involving Napoleon, told by a former infantryman.

The Country Parson (See The Village Rector)

Cousin Betty (La Cousine Bette)
Cousin Betty is Lisbeth Fischer, a poor relation of the Hulots. The story opens in 1838, when Betty is in her early forties and a spinster–although she had turned down several proposals of marriage. When Betty was a young girl, her sweet and very beautiful cousin Adeline, five years older than Betty, came to live with the family in their small village. Betty had to work in the fields while Adeline was pampered. Adeline made a spectacular marriage and moved to Paris. Always kind to Betty, Adeline and her husband brought Betty to Paris and apprenticed her to the embroiderers of the Imperial Court. One evening, a few years prior to the opening of the story, Betty smelled “carbonic acid gas and heard the groans of a dying man.” She rushed to the garret above her rooms, broke in, and discovered her upstairs neighbor writhing in the convulsions of death. She saved his life and, after discovering he was an artist, took him for her protege. Through the years Betty comes to feel a romantic love for the young sculptor. When he falls in love with Adeline’s daughter, Betty seeks revenge.

Cousin Pons (Le Cousin Pons)
Sylvain Pons, a musician now in his sixties, is a dear sweet soul. Pons never married, feeling he didn’t have enough income to support a family. His only passion is collecting curios. Almost his only entertainment is a weekly dinner with his cousin Camusot de Marville. His cousin’s wife however is not fond of Pons and wishes to exclude him from her home. Pons’ best friend is Wilhelm Schmucke, a German musician, also kind and sincere. Cibot is the porter in the house in which they live. His wife, Madame Cibot cooks for the two bachelors. She also never makes a decision without consulting her fortune-teller. Madame Fontaine’s portrait is short but highly entertaining as she makes use of a giant toad and a black chicken. Remonencq is a dealer in odds and ends who covets Pons’ collection.

A Dark Affair (See An Historical Mystery)

A Daughter of Eve (Une Fille d’Ève)
Ferdinand du Tillet, one of the richest bankers in Paris but a man of no family, married the much younger Marie-Eugenie de Granville, daughter of a peer of France. Du Tillet is unscrupulous in both his business and his private life. Marie-Eugenie’s sister is Angelique-Marie de Granville, now Madame de Vandenesse. Angelique-Marie is rather fearfully in awe of her husband due to his past but takes notice of the writer Raoul Nathan. Nathan determines to make the most of her interest.

The Deputy of Arcis (Le Député d’Arcis)
It is April, 1839, and spring cleaning is going on in the country. Plans are being made among the various factions for the coming election. Meanwhile a stranger has arrived. No one is able to obtain any information about him from his groom. When the mistress of the inn requests that he sign the register, as required by the police, he declines, saying he has no passport. Le Depute d’Arcis was uncompleted at Balzac’s death and was finished by Charles Rabou. It is partially an epistolary novel, told in part by numerous letters.

The Deserted Woman (La Femme Abandonnée)
In Le Père Goriot, one of the cornerstones of the Human Comedy, we first met Eugene de Rastignac’s cousin Vicomtesse de Beauseant. Although married herself, she felt deserted when her lover decided to marry. She left Paris prior to his wedding. For three years she has lived in isolation, almost mourning. Now her story continues in The Deserted Woman. M le Baron Gaston de Nueil, a young Parisian, has been sent away from Paris to recover from an inflammatory complaint. He finds life in the provinces rather slow after the feverish life of Paris.

A Distinguished Provincial at Paris (Un Grand homme de province à Paris)
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris is part two of the Lost Illusions trilogy. While the storyline in this novel does stand on its own, much character background will be gained by reading part one, The Two Poets, first. Part three is Eve and David. The story begun in the trilogy is concluded in a fourth novel, Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life. A Distinguished Provincial at Paris begins precisely where The Two Poets ended with two of the characters we met in part one traveling to Paris to live. Which of the two will be more successful in Paris where it is considerably more difficult to succeed than in the town of Angouleme they are leaving? Both characters will fall under the influence of Paris and its residents.

Domestic Peace (La paix du Ménage)
Domestic Peace centers on a ring, taken by a man from his wife in order that he may present it as a gift to another woman. This woman in turn presents it to a different man. When the wife sees this man wearing the ring at a ball, she determines to recover it.

A Double Family (See A Second Home)

A Double Life (See A Second Home)

A Drama on the Seashore (Un drame au bord de la Mer)
In this short anecdote, Louis Lambert and Pauline Salomon de Villenoix are visiting the seaside on holiday. They purchase some fish from a local fisherman who says his only dependent is his blind father. He relates to them the story of a hermit.

The Duchess of Langeais (La Duchesse de Langeais)
This story, dedicated to Franz Liszt, is set in a Spanish city on a Mediterranean island. The wealthy and sternly disciplined convent of the Order of Barefoot Carmelites survived the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. It was here that the Duchesse de Langeais sought refuge after fleeing Paris in Le Père Goriot.

The Elixir of Life (L’Élixir de longue Vie)
The scene opens on a winter evening in a princely palace where Don Juan Belvidero is giving a banquet. Don Juan has just remarked “There is but one eternal father, and, as ill luck will have it, he is mine,” when he is told by a servant that his father, now ninety, is dying. After reaching his father’s side, he hears a strange tale. His father tells him that he has found “a way of coming to life again.”

An Episode Under the Terror (Un Episode sous la Terreur)
This work, full of mystery and suspense, is considered one of Balzac’s short masterpieces. It begins: “On the 22d of January, 1793, towards eight o’clock in the evening, an old lady came down the steep street that comes to an end opposite the Church of Saint Laurent in the Faubourg Saint Martin. It had snowed so heavily all day long that the lady’s footsteps were scarcely audible; the streets were deserted, and a feeling of dread, not unnatural amid the silence, was further increased by the whole extent of the Terror beneath which France was groaning in those days; what was more, the old lady so far had met no one by the way.”

Eugene Grandet (Eugénie Grandet)
Many of Balzac’s novels focus on money in one way or another and in Eugenie Grandet the focus is very strong. Eugenie’s father, Cesar, is a miser and we see how this affects his relations with his family and even with his associates. But the story is really his daughter’s. Eugenie grows up an only child with this miserly father, a gentle but insignificant mother and a caring servant, Nanon. Living in Saumur, Eugenie is enthralled by her cousin Charles when the young gallant arrives from Paris for a visit.

Eve and David (Le Souffrances de l’inventeur)
Eve and David is the third of the Lost Illusions trilogy which should be read in order if possible. Part one is The Two Poets; part two is A Distinguished Provincial at Paris. The story is continued in a fourth novel, Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life. Eve and David first recounts the story of the happenings in Angouleme during the period of A Distinguished Provincial at Paris. There has been loyalty, duplicity, and double-dealing; also much worrying about their friend in Paris. The story continues the timeline with many twists and turns of fate setting the scene for the fourth novel.

The Executioner (See El Verdugo)

The Exiles (Les Proscrits)
Les Proscrits was placed by Balzac in the Philosophical group. It takes place in the 14th century, several centuries prior to the bulk of the Human Comedy.

Facino Cane
From the story: “Love of knowledge stranded me in a garret; my nights I spent in work, my days in reading at the Bibliotheque d’Orleans, close by. I lived frugally, I had accepted the conditions of the monastic life, necessary conditions for every worker, scarcely permitting myself a walk along the Boulevard Bourdon when the weather was fine. One passion only had power to draw me from my studies; and yet, what was that passion but a study of another kind. I used to watch the manners and customs of the Faubourg, its inhabitants, and their characteristics.”

The False Mistress (See Paz)

Fame and Sorrow (See At the Sign of the Cat and Racket)

Farewell (See Adieu/Farewell)

Father Goriot (Le Père Goriot)
Le Père Goriot, a cornerstone of Balzac’s Human Comedy is a novel of the obsession and sacrifices of a father for his two spoiled daughters. It intertwines with the life of a young law student beginning his Parisian odyssey and the other denizens of widow Vauquer’s boarding house. The setting is Paris in the 1820s. This is an excellent book with which to begin your immersion into Balzac’s France of the early 1800s as it introduces several of the continuing characters.

Ferragus
One of Balzac’s secret society stories. From the Preface: “Thirteen men were banded together in Paris under the Empire, all imbued with one and the same sentiment, all gifted with sufficient energy to be faithful to the same thought, with sufficient honor among themselves never to betray one another even if their interests clashed; and sufficiently wily and politic to conceal the sacred ties that united them, sufficiently strong to maintain themselves above the law, bold enough to undertake all things, and fortunate enough to succeed, nearly always, in their undertakings . . .”

The Firm of Nucingen (La Maison Nucingen)
This mid-length work demonstrates the hazards or joys and the enlightenment involved in eavesdropping. Our narrator is in a private room at a fashionable restaurant in Paris. Several journalists are in the next private room. They begin discussing Rastignac and the Nucingens. One recalls that Rastignac came from a poor, though noble family and recalls when Rastignac and Bianchon lived in a very shabby boarding-house in the Latin Quarter; he wonders how Rastignac made his money. Bixiou relates the story of the beginnings of his fortune. Then Blondet begins the story of the firm of Nucingen.

Gambara
Balzac’s fascinations with Italy and music are joined in the story of Gambara. Paolo Gambara, an Italian, is now living in Paris after a very difficult and often wretched childhood and youth. He is a music theorist but can rarely bring his compositions to the public in an orderly, understandable fashion. His wife, Marianina, has been supporting them with her needlework. They eat at the table-d’hote of Giardini, a Neapolitan, who is obsessed with the creation of new and special cookery dishes. Count Andrea Marcosini from Milan visits this “room dingy with dirt and smoke” and becomes interested in the lives of the other transplanted Italians.

Gaudissart II
An amusing anecdote about salesmanship. “To know how to sell, to be able to sell, and to sell. People generally do not suspect how much of the stateliness of Paris is due to these three aspects of the same problem.”

Gaudissart the Great (See The Illustrious Gaudissart)

The Girl with the Golden Eyes (La fille aux Yeux d’Or)
This story, dedicated to Eugene Delacroix, opens: “One of those sights in which most horror is to be encountered is, surely, the general aspect of the Parisian populace–a people fearful to behold, gaunt, yellow, tawny.” Henri de Marsay, strolling one day in the Tuileries is fascinated by the title character. Perhaps obsessed would be a better word.

Gobseck
Gobseck, at approximately eighty pages, is a sketch of a Jewish money-lender and miser in Paris during the early part of the nineteenth century. It gives us Gobseck’s history through the eyes of Derville, an attorney. Episodic in nature, the story moves rapidly, touching not only on Gobseck but on other characters of The Human Comedy.

The Gondreville Mystery (See An Historical Mystery)

The Government Clerks (See Bureaucracy)

La Grande Breteche (La Grande Brêteche)
La Grande Breteche is a sequel to Another Study of Woman but as they are tales related at a late night party it does stand on its own and does not need to be read after the other story. Bianchon, an excellent story-teller, relates the story of a house on the banks of the Loir near Vendome and its mysterious inhabitants. Dr. Bianchon had been stationed in Vendome to care for a wealthy patient. With time on his hands he had been enjoying a certain garden walk which he was then asked to discontinue. In explanation, he heard the story of a Spanish nobleman, his lover and her husband.

A Great Man of the Provinces in Paris (See A Distinguished Provincial at Paris)

La Grenadiere (La Grenadière)
La Grenadiere refers to a small house on the Loire about a mile below the bridge of Tours. After several pages devoted to descriptions of the house and area we meet the current tenants: “a lady with her housekeeper and her two children (the eldest a boy thirteen years old, the youngest apparently about eight).” The distance from town seemed to be an inducement to her decision to take the house. During her entire stay at La Grenadiere she only went into Tours twice, thereby becoming a mystery to the local residents.

A Harlot High and Low (See Splendeurs et Misères des Courtisanes)

The Hated Son (L’Enfant Maudit)
Set in the early 1600s, The Hated Son recounts the story of the ancestors of the Herouvilles and the Grandlieus. Comtesse Jeanne d’Herouville is in terror while awaiting the birth of her first child. But her terror is not of the childbirth itself, but of the perils that await the baby.

The Hidden Masterpiece (Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu)
A successful painter and his protege visit an old master who has overworked himself. For ten years he has worked on his masterpiece without anyone yet obtaining the merest glimpse of it.

An Historical Mystery (Une Ténébreuse Affaire)
The story opens on a beautiful November evening. Michu is cleaning his rifle and muttering to his wife about spies. There follows a brief history of the families of Simeuse and Cinq-Cygne. Michu’s dog barks furiously as two strangers from Paris appear on the side road. Aristocratic fugitives of the French Revolution are hiding in the area and there is a kidnapping of an important person. An intrepid young woman, Laurence de Cinq-Cygne, is heavily involved in various plots without her family’s knowledge.

The History of the Thirteen (See The Thirteen)

Honorine
The novel Honorine has been described as being about the difference between men’s love and women’s love. It is one of Balzac’s later works. Comtesse Honorine de Bauvan was married to the Comte at nineteen. She leaves him and is later abandoned by her lover when she becomes pregnant. She lives simply and earns money by making artificial flowers. What she doesn’t know is that her husband is paying exorbitant prices for her work, thus supporting her while letting her think she is independent of him.

The House of Nucingen (See The Firm of Nucingen)

The House of the Tennis-playing Cat (See At the Sign of the Cat and Racket)

The Illustrious Gaudissart (L’Illustre Gaudissart)
Gaudissart, one of the great commercial traveling salesmen, is so renowned that his name is almost synonymous with the occupation. While in Vouvray he encounters several mystifying circumstances. Will he be able to unravel the mystery or has he met his match in these provincials?

The Imaginary Mistress (See Paz)

The Interdiction (See The Commission in Lunacy)

Juana (Les Marana)
A line of French courtesans always keep their last name of Marana until one decides to break with tradition, give her daughter the father’s name and place her with a respectable family. This is the daughter’s story.

The Lesser Bourgeoisie (Les Petits Bourgeois)
The story opens with a description of the house owned by Mademoiselle Thuillier and details some of the residents. She, a very capable money-manager, lives there with her brother and his family. M. Colleville is her brother’s most intimate friend and the families spend considerable time together. Theodose de la Payrade, one of eleven children, came to Paris in 1829. After struggling with several careers he eventually became a barrister, often pleading the causes of the poor. Numerous other characters and families are involved in social and monetary intrigues.

Letters of Two Brides (Mémoires de Deux Jeunes Mariées)
Letters of Two Brides is an epistolary novel. The two brides are Louise de Chaulieu (Madame Gaston) and Renee de Maucombe (Madame l’Estorade). The women became friends during their education at a convent and upon leaving began a life-long correspondence. Their stories, marriages, children and adventures are revealed in letter form between the two confidants.

The Lily of the Valley (Le Lys dans la Vallée)
The lily of the valley is Comtesse de Mortsauf, living in the castle Clochegourde with her husband and two children. She had a sad childhood and now, in her marriage, her happiness is focused on her children. The novel also centers on Felix de Vandenesse who likewise had an unhappy childhood, both at home and at school. He meets Madame de Mortsauf while visiting at Frapesle, near Clochegourde. Felix appears in several other novels by Balzac. This novel is said to be one of Balzac’s personal favorites.

Louis Lambert
The character of Louis Lambert is generally considered to be Balzac himself. The “Traite de la Volonte” (Treatise on the Will) in the novel was actually written by the youthful Balzac and destroyed by a schoolmaster. Louis was the son of simple tanners. When he showed his aptitude for study and learning he was sent to a maternal uncle who was a vicar in a small city. He next came to the attention of Madame de Stael who financed his education. Nicknamed Pythagoras by his fellow students, his father died prior to his completion of the course.

Madame Firmiani
This short work opens: Many tales, either rich in situations or made dramatic by some of the innumerable tricks of chance, carry with them their own particular setting, which can be rendered artistically or simply by those who narrate them, without their subjects losing any, even the least of their charms. But there are some incidents in human experience to which the heart alone is able to give life; there are certain details–shall we call them anatomical?–the delicate touches of which cannot be made to reappear unless by an equally delicate rendering of thought; there are portraits which require the infusion of a soul, and mean nothing unless the subtlest expression of the speaking countenance is given . . . .

The Magic Skin (La Peau de Chagrin)
A young man, by appearance noble but impoverished, enters a gambling house for the first time and leaves shortly thereafter, having lost his small stake. He walks along the banks of the Seine determined to drown himself. It seems degrading to die thusly in broad daylight, so he strolls on, awaiting darkness. An antique shop attracts his interest and he soon loses himself wandering  among the curiosities. The proprietor is a short old man, thin and spare, whose gown envelopes his body like a winding sheet. What he obtains in the shop changes his entire life. Was it a blessing or a curse? One of Balzac’s supernatural tales.

Maitre Cornelius (Maître Cornélius)
A tale of love, religion, theft and more set in Tours in 1479.

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