I’m a desultory member of the Yahoo reading group which is working its way through the Comedie Humaine and at the moment we are reading Letters of Two Brides.
Just had to share this delicious moment from Letter XII, in which a father is admonishing his daughter and reminding her of her obligations to France (and that therefore she should let her younger brother have her inheritance).
“We stand between two policies—either to found the State on the basis of the family, or to rest it on individual interest—in other words, between democracy and aristocracy, between free discussion and obedience, between Catholicism and religious indifference. I am among the few who are resolved to oppose what is called the people, and that in the people’s true interest. It is not now a question of feudal rights, as fools are told, nor of rank; it is a question of the State and of the existence of France. The country which does not rest on the foundation of paternal authority cannot be stable. That is the foot of the ladder of responsibility and subordination, which has for its summit the King. (Kindle Lines 795-800, via Project Gutenberg)
So now you know. Next time you go to Paris and the waiters are rude to you and the museums are on strike for the whole week you are there so you can’t get in to the Louvre, blame La Revolution for all that insubordination…
BTW If you are really interested in Balzac, you can find my assorted responses to the ones I’ve read at GoodReads http://tinyurl.com/2cfd3dj because I don’t blog them here, and you can also visit La Comedie Humaine which is the blog for the Yahoo Balzac group I mention above. (The URL link is also in the blogroll on the RHS menu of this blog). We are gradually posting summaries and the occasional review of all the stories in La Comedie Humaine – and there are links to places where you can download the stories for free, and other resources as well. We’ve only been going since July 2010 and already it is a fabulous resource so do check it out.