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by Honore De Balzac, Trans. By Katharine Prescott Wormeley
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"Ursula" (original French title "Ursule Mirouet," 1842) forms one part of "Scenes from Provincial Life," a series of novels-whose other major work is "Eugenie Grandet"-examining manners and morals in the French provinces. --- Among all the novels of Honore de Balzac (1799-1850), none depicts so penetratingly the small-mindedness, avarice, and envy of the provincial lower middle classes. In "Ursula", no limitations based on morality or decency will hold these people back in their effort to acquire wealth and influence. --- Along with Stendhal, Balzac is the most important French novelist of the first half of the nineteenth century, and a founder of the realistic novel in Europe. His principal work is the unfinished cycle "The Human Comedy" (French: "La Comedie Humaine," which includes "Scenes from Provincial Life"), in which he attempted, in more than 80 volumes, to depict the society of his time in its entirety.
Entering Nemours by the road to Paris, we cross the canal du Loing, the steep banks of which serve the double purpose of ramparts to the fields and of picturesque promenades for the inhabitants of that pretty little town. Since 1830 several houses had unfortunately been built on the farther side of the bridge. If this sort of suburb increases, the place will lose its present aspect of graceful originality.
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