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5

Introduction

1
terms
4
notes

Ayton Crawford, M. (2004). Introduction. In de Balzac, H. Eugénie Grandet. Penguin Classics, pp. 5-32

6

[...] Balzac was intensely interested in psychological study, and his preoccupation with it is obvious in all his novels, but it is not the complexities and subtleties of men's minds, the discordant elements that fight for mastery in one human being, as the modern novelist sees them, that Balzac depicted. His characters are all of a piece, but represented with such power in their simplicity, or rather single-mindedness, that they become vehicles for the expression of universal truths, and the story of their lives has often an epic quality, or sometimes the direct working out of their apparently inevitable destiny seems to borrow from classical tragedy.

—p.6 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago

[...] Balzac was intensely interested in psychological study, and his preoccupation with it is obvious in all his novels, but it is not the complexities and subtleties of men's minds, the discordant elements that fight for mastery in one human being, as the modern novelist sees them, that Balzac depicted. His characters are all of a piece, but represented with such power in their simplicity, or rather single-mindedness, that they become vehicles for the expression of universal truths, and the story of their lives has often an epic quality, or sometimes the direct working out of their apparently inevitable destiny seems to borrow from classical tragedy.

—p.6 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago
7

[...] Balzac's chief characters are capable of development, and visibly change under he impact of circumstances in the course of the novel, as people alter in real life. It is even possible to say that this development of the characters is one of the principal things the novels, and especially this novel, are 'about'. And yet all these characters in all the vicissitudes and changes through which they pass hold fast to their dominant idea, to the inner dream by which they live. In Grandet it is gold, in Madame Grandet God, in Eugenie her love of Charles. [...]

—p.7 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago

[...] Balzac's chief characters are capable of development, and visibly change under he impact of circumstances in the course of the novel, as people alter in real life. It is even possible to say that this development of the characters is one of the principal things the novels, and especially this novel, are 'about'. And yet all these characters in all the vicissitudes and changes through which they pass hold fast to their dominant idea, to the inner dream by which they live. In Grandet it is gold, in Madame Grandet God, in Eugenie her love of Charles. [...]

—p.7 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago

(noun) a literary term coined by Alexander Pope to describe to describe amusingly failed attempts at sublimity (an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous); adj is "bathetic"

8

Madame Grandet had no completed the woollen sleeves she was knitting, and that for want of them she caught a chill. He is never afraid of bathos.

—p.8 by Marion Ayton Crawford
notable
2 years, 5 months ago

Madame Grandet had no completed the woollen sleeves she was knitting, and that for want of them she caught a chill. He is never afraid of bathos.

—p.8 by Marion Ayton Crawford
notable
2 years, 5 months ago
11

The tides that are sweeping France send their wash into the remote provincial town of Saumur. We watch the forces and passions that are changing the entire social scene in action in this backwater.

—p.11 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago

The tides that are sweeping France send their wash into the remote provincial town of Saumur. We watch the forces and passions that are changing the entire social scene in action in this backwater.

—p.11 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago
26

It is a more serious accusation against him that his pleasant likable characters are so invariably the victims of his wicked ones, though it may be thought that this is not really too great a simplification of what is true in life. Mauriac speaks of 'the fundamental manichaeism of Balzac, for whom darkness and light divide the kingdom between them': and it is true that Balzac's wicked characters go to and fro upon the earth unchecked, like incarnations of Satan, and the virtuous characters have no defences against them. The self-abnegation which these virtuous characters nearly always practise has a spiritual significance, as well as a social one, though because Balzac was less interested in this aspect than he was in the power of the evil forms opposed to them, the radiance and grandeur of their sublimity' is not so overwhelmingly revealed to us that we forget the crippling restrictions imposed on their earthly development and happiness, which Balzac, in fact, takes care to emphasize. And these restrictions are, of course, their tragedy. Not for Balzac's heroines the terrible splendour of Desdemona's tragedy, nor the crashing finality of Tess of the D'Urbervilles' catastrophic end, but the continued narrow colourless existence of a wealthy ageing woman in a provincial town, which we see prolonged into the future beyond the confines of the book.

—p.26 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago

It is a more serious accusation against him that his pleasant likable characters are so invariably the victims of his wicked ones, though it may be thought that this is not really too great a simplification of what is true in life. Mauriac speaks of 'the fundamental manichaeism of Balzac, for whom darkness and light divide the kingdom between them': and it is true that Balzac's wicked characters go to and fro upon the earth unchecked, like incarnations of Satan, and the virtuous characters have no defences against them. The self-abnegation which these virtuous characters nearly always practise has a spiritual significance, as well as a social one, though because Balzac was less interested in this aspect than he was in the power of the evil forms opposed to them, the radiance and grandeur of their sublimity' is not so overwhelmingly revealed to us that we forget the crippling restrictions imposed on their earthly development and happiness, which Balzac, in fact, takes care to emphasize. And these restrictions are, of course, their tragedy. Not for Balzac's heroines the terrible splendour of Desdemona's tragedy, nor the crashing finality of Tess of the D'Urbervilles' catastrophic end, but the continued narrow colourless existence of a wealthy ageing woman in a provincial town, which we see prolonged into the future beyond the confines of the book.

—p.26 by Marion Ayton Crawford 2 years, 5 months ago