Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Balzac

I can't remember why or how I got onto Honore de Balzac, but I'm glad I did. I've just read three short stories, and today started a novel called Cousin Betty.

'A Tragedy by the Sea' was atmospheric, tense and had a shocking denouement. It was in the form of a man writing to his uncle firstly about an encounter with a fisherman, and then a living spectre along a coastline. I suppose it was a little melodramatic for modern tastes, but the build-up of tension was masterful.

'Facino Cane' was another encounter, this time with a blind musician at a wedding. His story is gradually drawn from him by the narrator, and is about obsession and greed.

In 'The Atheist's Mass' the important characteristics of a renowned surgeon are established, as well as the mystery of why such an atheist surreptitiously attends mass. The reason, when it eventually comes out, is a sentimental one, but I loved it.


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