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by Frederick Lawton
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Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a nineteenthcentury French novelist and playwright. His work of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, is a broad, often satirical panorama of French society, particularly the petite bourgeoisie, in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815-namely the period of the Restoration (1815-1830) and the July Monarchy (1830-1848). Along with Gustave Flaubert, whose work he influenced, Balzac is generally regarded as a founding father of realism in European literature.
One has little doubt in deciding that, of the two spurs which goaded Balzac's labours, his desire for wealth acted more persistently and energetically than his desire for glory. In his conversations, in his correspondence, money was the eternal theme; in his novels it is almost always the hinge on which the interest, whether of character, plot, or passion, depends. Money was his obsession, day and night; and, in his dormant visions, it must have loomed largely.
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