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Old 05-12-2016, 02:20 PM
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I personally feel it is always important and useful to not only have standards and models of what many consider as the best to have yet been produced (particularly in the arts), but also to have worthy citations of those accomplishments.
I hope there are some here for whom this article below, from the Encyclopedia Britannica (including their recommended citation for use, i.e. there is no copyright infringement for using this article in full), will be appreciated as helping to fulfill those
aims.


From: "Balzac, Honoré de." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012.


"Introduction

original name Honoré Balssa
born May 20, 1799, Tours, France

died August 18, 1850, Paris

Photograph:Honoré de Balzac, daguerreotype, 1848.


* Honoré de Balzac, daguerreotype, 1848.

French literary artist who produced a vast number of novels and short stories collectively called La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy). He helped to establish the traditional form of the novel and is generally considered to be one of the greatest novelists of all time.


Early career

Balzac's father was a man of southern peasant stock who worked in the civil service for 43 years under Louis XVI and Napoleon. Honoré's mother came from a family of prosperous Parisian cloth merchants. His sister Laure (later de Surville) was his only childhood friend, and she became his first biographer.

Balzac was sent to school at the Collège des Oratoriens at Vendôme from age 8 to 14. At Napoleon's downfall his family moved from Tours to Paris, where he went to school for two more years and then spent three years as a lawyer's clerk. During this time he already aimed at a literary career, but as the writer of Cromwell (1819) and other tragic plays he was utterly unsuccessful. He then began writing novels filled with mystic and philosophical speculations before turning to the production of potboilers—gothic, humorous, historical novels—written under composite pseudonyms. Then he tried a business career as a publisher, printer, and owner of a typefoundry, but disaster soon followed. In 1828 he was narrowly saved from bankruptcy and was left with debts of more than 60,000 francs. From then on his life was to be one of mounting debts and almost incessant toil. He returned to writing with a new mastery, and his literary apprenticeship was over.

Two works of 1829 brought Balzac to the brink of success. Les Chouans, the first novel he felt enough confidence about to have published under his own name, is a historical novel about the Breton peasants called Chouans who took part in a royalist insurrection against Revolutionary France in 1799. The other, La Physiologie du mariage (The Physiology of Marriage), is a humorous and satirical essay on the subject of marital infidelity, encompassing both its causes and its cure. The six stories in his Scènes de la vie privée (1830; “Scenes from Private Life”) further increased his reputation. These long short stories are for the most part psychological studies of girls in conflict with parental authority. The minute attention he gave to describing domestic background in his works anticipated the spectacularly detailed societal observations of his later Parisian studies.

From this point forward Balzac spent much of his time in Paris. He began to frequent some of the best-known Parisian salons of the day and redoubled his efforts to set himself up as a dazzling figure in society. To most people he seemed full of exuberant vitality, talkative, jovial and robustious, egoistic, credulous, and boastful. He adopted for his own use the armorial bearings of an ancient noble family with which he had no connection and assumed the honorific particle de. He was avid for fame, fortune, and love but was above all conscious of his own genius. He also began to have love affairs with fashionable or aristocratic women at this time, finally gaining that firsthand understanding of mature women that is so evident in his novels.

Between 1828 and 1834 Balzac led a tumultuous existence, spending his earnings in advance as a dandy and man-about-town. A fascinating raconteur, he was fairly well received in society. But social ostentation was only a relaxation from phenomenal bouts of work—14 to 16 hours spent writing at his table in his white, quasi-monastic dressing gown, with his goose-quill pen and his endless cups of black coffee. In 1832 Balzac became friendly with Éveline Hanska, a Polish countess who was married to an elderly Ukrainian landowner. She, like many other women, had written to Balzac expressing admiration of his writings. They met twice in Switzerland in 1833—the second time in Geneva, where they became lovers—and again in Vienna in 1835. They agreed to marry when her husband died, and so Balzac continued to conduct his courtship of her by correspondence; the resulting Lettres à l'étrangère (“Letters to a Foreigner”), which appeared posthumously (4 vol., 1889–1950), are an important source of information for the history both of Balzac's life and of his work.

To clear his debts and put himself in a position to marry Madame Hanska now became Balzac's great incentive. He was at the peak of his creative power. In the period 1832–35 he produced more than 20 works, including the novels Le Médecin de campagne (1833; The Country Doctor), Eugénie Grandet (1833), L'Illustre Gaudissart (1833; The Illustrious Gaudissart), and Le Père Goriot (1835), one of his masterpieces. Among the shorter works were Le Colonel Chabert (1832), Le Curé de Tours (1832; The Vicar of Tours), the trilogy of stories entitled Histoire des treize (1833–35; History of the Thirteen), and Gobseck (1835). Between 1836 and 1839 he wrote Le Cabinet des antiques (1839), the first two parts of another masterpiece, Illusions perdues (1837–43; Lost Illusions), César Birotteau (1837), and La Maison Nucingen (1838; The Firm of Nucingen). Between 1832 and 1837 he also published three sets of Contes drolatiques (Droll Stories). These stories, Rabelaisian in theme, are written with great verve and gusto in an ingenious pastiche of 16th-century language. During the 1830s he also wrote a number of philosophical novels dealing with mystical, pseudoscientific, and other exotic themes. Among these are La Peau de chagrin (1831; The Wild Ass's Skin), Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu (1831; The Unknown Masterpiece), Louis Lambert (1834), La Recherche de l'absolu (1834; The Quest of the Absolute), and Séraphîta (1834–35).

In all these varied works Balzac emerged as the supreme observer and chronicler of contemporary French society. These novels are unsurpassed for their narrative drive, their large casts of vital, diverse, and interesting characters, and their obsessive interest in and examination of virtually all spheres of life: the contrast between provincial and metropolitan manners and customs; the commercial spheres of banking, publishing, and industrial enterprise; the worlds of art, literature, and high culture; politics and partisan intrigue; romantic love in all its aspects; and the intricate social relations and scandals among the aristocracy and the haute bourgeoisie.

No theme is more typically Balzacian than that of the ambitious young provincial fighting for advancement in the competitive world of Paris. Balzac admired those individuals who were ruthless, astute, and, above all, successful in thrusting their way up the social and economic scale at all costs. He was especially attracted by the theme of the individual in conflict with society: the adventurer, the scoundrel, the unscrupulous financier, and the criminal. Frequently his villains are more vigorous and interesting than his virtuous characters. He was both fascinated and appalled by the French social system of his time, in which the bourgeois values of material acquisitiveness and gain were steadily replacing what he viewed as the more stable moral values of the old-time aristocracy.

These topics provided material largely unknown, or unexplored, by earlier writers of French fiction. The individual in Balzac's stories is continually affected by the pressure of material difficulties and social ambitions, and he may expend his tremendous vitality in ways Balzac views as socially destructive and self-destructive. Linked with this idea of the potentially destructive power of passionate will, emotion, and thought is Balzac's peculiar notion of a vital fluid concentrated inside the person, a store of energy that he may husband or squander as he desires, thereby lengthening or shortening his vital span. Indeed, a supremely important feature in Balzac's characters is that most are spendthrifts of this vital force, a fact that explains his monomaniacs who are both victim and embodiment of some ruling passion; avarice, as in the main character of Gobseck, a usurer gloating over his sense of power, or the miserly father obsessed with riches in Eugénie Grandet; excessive paternal affection, as in the idolatrous Learlike father in Le Père Goriot; feminine vindictiveness, as evidenced in La Cousine Bette and a half-dozen other novels; the mania of the art collector, as in Le Cousin Pons; the artist's desire for perfection, as in Le Chef-d'oeuvre inconnu; the curiosity of the scientist, as in the fanatical chemist of La Recherche de l'absolu; or the vaulting and frustrated ambition of the astonishingly resourceful criminal mastermind Vautrin in Illusions perdues and Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes. Once such an obsession has gained a hold, Balzac shows it growing irresistibly in power and blinding the person concerned to all other considerations. The typical structure of his novels from the early 1830s onward is determined by this approach: there is a long period of preparation and exposition, and then tension mounts swiftly to an inevitable climax, as in classical tragedy.


La Comédie humaine

The year 1834 marks a climax in Balzac's career, for by then he had become totally conscious of his great plan to group his individual novels so that they would comprehend the whole of contemporary society in a diverse but unified series of books. There were to be three general categories of novels: Études analytiques (“Analytic Studies”), dealing with the principles governing human life and society; Études philosophiques (“Philosophical Studies”), revealing the causes determining human action; and Études de moeurs (“Studies of Manners”), showing the effects of those causes, and themselves to be divided into six kinds of scènes—private, provincial, Parisian, political, military, and country life. This entire project resulted in a total of 12 volumes (1834–37). By 1837 Balzac had written much more, and by 1840 he had hit upon a Dantesque title for the whole: La Comédie humaine. He negotiated with a consortium of publishers for an edition under this name, 17 volumes of which appeared between 1842 and 1848, including a famous foreword written in 1842. In 1845, having new works to include and many others in project, he began preparing for another complete edition. A “definitive edition” was published, in 24 volumes, between 1869 and 1876. The total number of novels and novellas comprised in the Comédie humaine is roughly 90.

Also in 1834 the idea of using “reappearing characters” matured. Balzac was to establish a pool of characters from which he would constantly and repeatedly draw, thus adding a sense of solidarity and coherence to the Comédie humaine. A certain character would reappear—now in the forefront, now in the background, of different fictions—in such a way that the reader could gradually form a full picture of him. Balzac's use of this device places him among the originators of the modern novel cycle. In the end, the total number of named characters in the Comédie humaine is estimated to have reached 2,472, with a further 566 unnamed characters.

In January 1842 Balzac learned of the death of Wenceslas Hanski. He now had good expectations of marrying Éveline, but there were many obstacles, not the least being his inextricable indebtedness. She in fact held back for many years, and the period of 1842–48 shows Balzac continuing and even intensifying his literary activity in the frantic hope of winning her, though he had to contend with increasing ill health.

Balzac produced many notable works during the early and mid-1840s. These include the masterpieces Une Ténébreuse Affaire (1841; A Shady Business), La Rabouilleuse (1841–42; The Black Sheep), Ursule Mirouët (1841), and one of his greatest works, Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes (1843–47; A Harlot High and Low). Balzac's last two masterpieces were La Cousine Bette (1847; Cousin Bette) and Le Cousin Pons (1847; Cousin Pons).

In the autumn of 1847 Balzac went to Madame Hanska's château at Wierzchownia and remained there until February 1848. He returned again in October to stay, mortally sick, until the spring of 1850. Then at last Éveline relented. They were married in March and proceeded to Paris, where Balzac lingered on miserably for the few months before his death.

Balzac did not quite realize his tremendous aim of making his novels comprehend the whole of society at that time. His projected scenes of military and political life were only partially completed, and there were certain other gaps, for instance in regard to the new class of industrial workers. Nevertheless, few novelists have thronged their pages with men and women drawn from so many different spheres, nor with characters so widely representative of human passions and frailties, projected with dynamic and convincing force.

Balzac was notable for his peculiar methods of composition. He often began with a relatively simple subject and a brief first draft, but fresh ideas came crowding in during composition until finally the story expanded far beyond his first intention. The trouble lay in the fact that Balzac tended to expand and amplify his original story by making emendations after it had been typeset by the printers. The original skeleton of a story was thus filled out until it had reached the proportions of a full-length novel, but only at a ruinous cost of printer's bills to its author. Even when the novel was in print he would frequently introduce new variations on his theme, as successive editions appeared.

Balzac's method was almost invariably to reinforce, to emphasize, and to amplify. There are lengthy digressions in which he aired his remarkably detailed knowledge of legal procedures, financial manipulations, or industrial processes, but at its best his style is remarkably graphic, fast-moving and tersely epigrammatic but richly studded with sarcasm, wit, and psychological observation. His command of the French language was probably unrivaled, and he was also an outstanding master of dialogue. His sardonic humour saves his more pessimistic stories from being uniformly dark, and he had a real gift for comedy.

Balzac is regarded as the creator of realism in the novel. He is also acknowledged as having helped to establish the technique of the traditional novel, in which consequent and logically determined events are narrated by an all-seeing observer (the omniscient narrator) and characters are coherently presented. Balzac had exceptional powers of observation and a photographic memory, but he also had a sympathetic, intuitive capacity to understand and describe other people's attitudes, feelings, and motivations. He was bent on illustrating the relation between cause and effect, between social background and character. His ambition was to “compete with the civil register,” exactly picturing his contemporaries in their class distinctions and occupations. In this he succeeded, but he went even further in his efforts to show that the human spirit has power over men and events—to become, as he has been called, “the Shakespeare of the novel.”


Additional Reading
Charles V. Spoelberch de Lovenjoul, Histoire des oeuvres de Honoré de Balzac, 3rd rev. ed. (1888, reprinted 1968), is still indispensable for Balzacian research. See also William H. Royce, A Balzac Bibliography: Writings Relative to the Life and Works of Honoré de Balzac (1929, reprinted 1969). There are many excellent editions of Balzac's complete works. A complete, compact collection of Balzac's letters consists of Roger Pierrot (ed.), Correspondence, 5 vol. (1960–69), and Lettres à Madame Hanska, 4 vol. (1967–71). Biographies include Graham Robb, Balzac (1994); V.S. Pritchett, Balzac (1973, reprinted 1983), a concise introduction; André Maurois, Prometheus: The Life of Balzac (1965, reissued 1983); Herbert J. Hunt, Honoré de Balzac (1957, reprinted 1969); Théophile Gautier, Honoré de Balzac (1859, reissued 1980); and Ferdinand Brunetière, Honoré de Balzac: 1799–1850 (1906, reprinted 1970). Among general works are Diana Festa-McCormick, Honoré de Balzac (1979), an introductory critical survey; Christopher Prendergast, Balzac: Fiction and Melodrama (1978), a comparative study of his novels; Samuel Rogers, Balzac and the Novel (1953, reissued 1969), a thoughtful work; Herbert J. Hunt, Balzac's Comédie Humaine (1959, reprinted 1964), a complete historical and analytical study that shows the work's expansion; Jules Bertaut (ed.), Balzac (1959), including an interesting tribute by Michel Butor; Philippe Bertault, Balzac and The Human Comedy (1963, originally published in French, 1946), a judicious general study by a great Balzacian scholar; Frederick W.J. Hemmings, Balzac: An Interpretation of La Comédie Humaine (1967), a perceptive analysis of Balzac in relation to his times; and Stefan Zweig, Balzac, 2nd ed. (1970; originally published in German, 1946), an assessment. Among other studies are Janet L. Beizer, Family Plots: Balzac's Narrative Generations (1986); Michael Tilby (ed.), Balzac (1995); and Tim Farrant, Balzac's Shorter Fictions: Genesis and Genre (2002)."


From: "Balzac, Honoré de." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2012.


Last edited by Elisa/win; 05-18-2016 at 04:13 AM..
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Old 05-13-2016, 05:15 AM
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This section is for fiction, original works. Your thread needs to be in the non-fiction section. And by the way Balzac is dead.
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Old 05-13-2016, 07:14 AM
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...thanks so much!

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Old 05-18-2016, 04:12 AM
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Poof!

I've always thought the best way to deal with your mistakes is to pretend they never even happened.
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:19 AM
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Binx B please don't exacerbate this further. You're cooler than that. Get a couple of beer man and let's drink to a discussion that actually stays on track

The member did make a mistake posting it in "Fiction" but now it's in a better place. The tread ask that the article be a starting point for discussion, so please discuss it if you wish. If there is nothing to say, simply don't join in.

This is a new member and he should be given some slack as every one are when they first join.

Let everyone start afresh.

Mm get a few pizzas too.
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Elisa/win View Post
Get a couple of beer man and let's drink to a discussion that actually stays on track
It's 8:30 in the morning here and I'm on my way to see a client, so that's probably not a good idea.
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:34 AM
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Okay, so back on topic.

Of all the Encyclopedia Britannica entries about all the influential and important authors in the history of the written language who have set standards for their peers and subsequent generations of writers, why Balzac?

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Old 05-18-2016, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
Okay, so back on topic.

Of all the Encyclopedia Britannica entries about all the influential and important authors in the history of the written language who have set standards for their peers and subsequent generations of writers, why Balzac?
Fair enough. I guess, in the first place, because considering all the abuse I got just for posting this one, imagine if I posted all of them (just kidding). Well, the short answer to that is that I was reading different bios of writers on my handy-dandy (actually mind-blowing) 2012 Encyclopedia Britannica app which I purchased for $9.99. This is a whole different story. But for those here who are, or are hoping to be, earning money writing, this is probably the best deal ever. I believe 2013 was the year EB stopped publishing their hardcover Edition, and (for whatever reason) they made the whole shebang available for a pittance as a DVD. One can argue the merits of Wikipedia vs. EB (and from experience this sounds like just the kind of argument I think best to avoid here), but for me there is simply no comparison. Growing up, EB was considered the best research resource by virtually everyone in the country; from academics to writers to everybody else. Now, I can sit at my computer terminal and read brilliant articles on any topic worth reading about, by bona fide authorities in their field (which alone generally distinguishes it from Wiki)... including great writers. Which brings us back to the topic at hand (quite neatly I daresay...) In any event, of all the authors I was reading about, including Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Edna O'Brien, etc... none compared to that article on Balzac. He was (and still is ) simply virtually without peer. Yes, everyone has their own favorite. But, I think he still can be called "the novelists novelist".

"The year 1834 marks a climax in Balzac's career, for by then he had become totally conscious of his great plan to group his individual novels so that they would comprehend the whole of contemporary society in a diverse but unified series of books. There were to be three general categories of novels: Études analytiques (“Analytic Studies”), dealing with the principles governing human life and society; Études philosophiques (“Philosophical Studies”), revealing the causes determining human action; and Études de moeurs (“Studies of Manners”), showing the effects of those causes, and themselves to be divided into six kinds of scènes—private, provincial, Parisian, political, military, and country life. This entire project resulted in a total of 12 volumes (1834–37). By 1837 Balzac had written much more, and by 1840 he had hit upon a Dantesque title for the whole: La Comédie humaine. He negotiated with a consortium of publishers for an edition under this name, 17 volumes of which appeared between 1842 and 1848, including a famous foreword written in 1842. In 1845, having new works to include and many others in project, he began preparing for another complete edition. A “definitive edition” was published, in 24 volumes, between 1869 and 1876. The total number of novels and novellas comprised in the Comédie humaine is roughly 90."

Who else has even attempted such a thing? And with 2500 original characters...? I know that George Eliot considered him the greatest of all time. And apparently the fellow who wrote the EB article wouldn't argue that.
So, how about this: if one is going to set someone up as a standard, why not choose a writer who is considered, by many of their own peers, as the best? I hope that answers the question (and please let's not devolve into: "oh well I think Philip K. Dick was much better. Well, he's dead too...
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Old 05-18-2016, 12:44 PM
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what happened to my post? I know I posted here? was there something mean about it or what.

It was at one time post 3 and there was nothing mean or anything that pointed to another member - so where did it go, I asked Alice, but neither she nor the white rabbit knew.

'wait I just figured it out', cried the mad hatter, 'censorship ' -

I knew that IT table deal would lead to no good.

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Old 05-18-2016, 01:32 PM
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I've read authors because of the various connections I've made on my own. Who hasn't? For example, I might not have read Chekhov if I hadn't read Carver, who cited him as an important influence. The list goes on.

And I've read authors because of articles I've read. I first read Philip Roth because of an article I read about him in Vanity Fair. Naturally, we're all drawn to different authors based on a variety of sources, influences, references and recommendations.

But it wouldn't occur to me to recommend or hold up an author as any kind of example without having read that author, or made some attempt to understand how and why he was influential—outside of assessments made by so-called "bona fide authorities."

So sorry, what this thread lacks is anything that suggests you have an understanding of how this author sets a standard beyond what you've read in Encyclopedia Britannica. Therefore, to me this seems like a pointless and hollow exercise, not altogether different than someone who puts weighty tomes on his coffee table to impress his friends—if he has any.

BTW, before you call me an asshole again or launch into a personal attack like the one that was deleted by the mods, think of the standard that you set for yourself. Just maybe, I'm suggesting you raise the bar when you're trying to engage other aspiring writers.

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Old 05-18-2016, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Binx B View Post
I've read authors because of the various connections I've made on my own. Who hasn't? For example, I might not have read Chekhov if I hadn't read Carver, who cited him as an important influence. The list goes on.

And I've read authors because of articles I've read. I first read Philip Roth because of an article I read about him in Vanity Fair. Naturally, we're all drawn to different authors based on a variety of sources, influences, references and recommendations.

But it wouldn't occur to me to recommend or hold up an author as any kind of example without having read that author, or made some attempt to understand how and why he was influential—outside of assessments made by so-called "bona fide authorities."

So sorry, what this thread lacks is anything that suggest you have an understanding of how this author sets a standard beyond what you've read in Encyclopedia Britannica. Therefore, to me this seems like a pointless and hollow exercise, not altogether different than someone who puts weighty tomes on his coffee table to impress his friends—if he has any.
You asked me why I chose Balzac from all of the authors in Britannica. I took the question literally and answered literally. Why do I assume anyone here might actually not be looking to pick a fight? Why bother. The truth of the matter is if people here were actually interested in serious writing, they'd be reading it and serious criticism of it. My mistake. Everyone kept telling me that you were only interested in each other. I guess on some level I couldn't really accept that. But now I understand. Thanks for that.
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:30 PM
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Not surprisingly, you completely missed the point.

I'll say it again—think of the standard that you set for yourself. I'm suggesting you raise the bar when you're trying to engage other aspiring writers.

Cut and paste without any insight or assessment on your part probably isn't going to cut it. Don't blame everyone else or say that people aren't interested in "serious writing" because you've failed to do anything beyond parroting something you read in a high school level encyclopedia.

PS — The internet is jammed with a bazillion people who think posting links and cutting and pasting borrowed ideas and opinions is a fantastic idea. Hey everyone, click this link to see something interesting!

So maybe don't be one of them?

But if that's your thing, Facebook awaits!

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Old 05-18-2016, 04:05 PM
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I have been trying to hold my tongue on this

but just need to add==

don't you think we should be discussing the person who wrote the piece and not the person the piece was written about?


did the person who wrote the piece live up to the standards that the person written about set forth?


your call


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Old 05-18-2016, 06:54 PM
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I seldom join in discussions, but since I also believe it is valuable to discuss great writers, I can't resist joining in. Both Binx and Max make a fair point.

But it wouldn't occur to me to recommend or hold up an author as any kind of example without having read that author, or made some attempt to understand how and why he was influential—outside of assessments made by so-called "bona fide authorities."
did the person who wrote the piece live up to the standards that the person written about set forth?
You, as in the general you, cannot, or rather, should not consider someone great just because other people say so. So two questions: Have you read anything by Balzac? If not, I think you try some of his work and discover what you really feel about it. If you have, then, what, besides the fact he attempted the operation above mentioned that makes you think he's a great writer and worth looking up to? Has it in any way influenced you in either writing or shift your view on the world if you did read works by Balzac? In my opinion, that's what makes great writing. It's not so much that you need to love their work or agree with it, although that is a bonus, but if it makes a person rethink that they think they know or understand about either themselves or the wold, or satire or even simply the interplay of words as with P. G. Woodhouse just to name one.

I have never read him, but I probably should. But while we're on the topic of great writers, someone I think influences me a lot is Conrad. Any of you like his work? What moves me is for example in his Lord Jim and Victory, far my favourites by him, he has the courage to explore social evil and its subtly. In the first he asks the questions about what true redemption is, and if we can really find it, surrounded as we are by influences that work unknowingly on our ultimate desertions. He asks, and makes at least me think about if to gain true redemption, we don't only need to escape the stigma the world and society puts on us, but rather to learn to forgive ourselves even if the wrong we did in the past that haunts us can never be forgotten or put to right.

Victory works along those similar lines, but move more on the psychology of evil. The way he uses caricature to represent different types of evil is amazing and by distilling each type, the reader can really see the interplay between the tree types he chose to focus on.


Thoughts?
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Old 05-18-2016, 09:42 PM
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("...well just remind me that if I ever try to emulate those writers whom I actually admire it might entail my becoming someone given over to drink, suffering from bouts of depression and self doubt, being penniless, and becoming recognized posthumously too, might have a bit of trouble with the last one though..." observed the goblin suspecting instead that one could only ever be oneself really, and oneself for all one's faults too, then adding "...in Balzac's day everyone read books since there were few other intellectual distractions, yet today the average american reads one book a year so writing is not about emulating the greats of some bygone yardstick now, no it's more about getting up in the morning, putting those base motivations of "fame and fortune" to one side, and then just seeing if you can catch with your pen an adventure that eludes you mostly for readers whom one tries to elude mostly...", in fact, the goblin never knew which was really worse now, having spent the adventure up inside or being caught tight in the grip of those reader's expectations there, smiling "...guess I'll settle for my anonymous recognition then, something like just an adventure in the writing of it, and dead once it's written...", just livewriting he meant)

Last edited by fleamailman; 05-19-2016 at 01:40 PM..
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Old 05-18-2016, 09:47 PM
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I, on the other hand, believe in answering a question as posed. Which, in this case was, "Of all the Encyclopedia Britannica entries about all the influential and important authors in the history of the written language who have set standards for their peers and subsequent generations of writers, why Balzac?" The question, to me, seemed directly related to my reading of articles on authors in the Encyclopedia Britannica, so I answered as honestly and thoroughly as I could. If the question was: what was it about Balzac that I personally felt justified his being used as a standard, I would have replied to that. But this is a perfect example of why this site is a perfect waste of time for someone like me. I answer a question as respectfully and pointedly, as I assumed it was posed, but instead of a reply in kind, I get, "Therefore, to me this seems like a pointless and hollow exercise, not altogether different than someone who puts weighty tomes on his coffee table to impress his friends—if he has any." This, to me, is obnoxious, petty, uncollegial, inappropriate... not to mention completely besides the point. But, unfortunately, it apparently passes as well within the "norm" here, not only by members, but by the administration as well. This I guess is why I had the impulse to post a couple of items regarding "standards" to begin with (in addition to many prior ones detailing my personal beliefs on quite a number of matters). This site is direly lacking in such, not only aesthetically, but in terms of basic civil discourse. But, to each his own. And, yes, I'm sure whoever uttered those immortal words, is probably now long since dead, too.
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:28 PM
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lost here

I just read 'The Ball at Sceaux' by Balzac and wonder why this would be a standard. It was slow and interesting from a historical point of view; but when it is all said and done it was just a story. it didn't stand out in any way.

was his writing different from the way things were written at the time - thus creating the standard of which you quote?

have you ever read any of his works or just relying on the Encyclopedia Britannica entries as your reference to the man's 'genius' ?

did I pick one of his mediocre stories?

please advise and we can talk about a specific work of his and how it set standards.


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Old 05-19-2016, 01:37 AM
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("...wait a sec, I mean who could possibly answer in all honesty that question there, if only because I don't think anyone has ever read all the entries in the encyclopedia britannica pertaining to authors to begin with to be able to formulate an exact answer by it..." ventured the goblin somewhat rubbing his chin between his forefinger and his thumb in a perplexed manner, before adding "...but tell you what though, why not ask a more direct question like "do you think authors should emulate other authors" where my answer would be "only is one lives twice now, otherwise best not to then"...")

Last edited by fleamailman; 05-19-2016 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 05-19-2016, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Quandy View Post
I, on the other hand, believe in answering a question as posed. Which, in this case was, "Of all the Encyclopedia Britannica entries about all the influential and important authors in the history of the written language who have set standards for their peers and subsequent generations of writers, why Balzac?" The question, to me, seemed directly related to my reading of articles on authors in the Encyclopedia Britannica, so I answered as honestly and thoroughly as I could.
That was sarcasm. Looks like fleamailman captured the meaning in his last post. Without any kind of thought or insight or setup from you, the selection seems pretty random. I was thinking that maybe you only got through the "B's" in your encyclopedia, but you mentioned Roth, so that can't be it.

Originally Posted by Quandy View Post
If the question was: what was it about Balzac that I personally felt justified his being used as a standard, I would have replied to that. But this is a perfect example of why this site is a perfect waste of time for someone like me.
And you still haven't answered it. Maybe because you haven't read any Balzac or enough to form any opinion? And then you expect everyone else to waste THEIR time indulging you? Someone like you should probably think about that.

Originally Posted by Quandy View Post
I answer a question as respectfully and pointedly, as I assumed it was posed, but instead of a reply in kind, I get, "Therefore, to me this seems like a pointless and hollow exercise, not altogether different than someone who puts weighty tomes on his coffee table to impress his friends—if he has any."

This, to me, is obnoxious, petty, uncollegial, inappropriate... not to mention completely besides the point.
I think you wish it was beside the point, but it's not. I may not have sugarcoated things, but the assessment is accurate and has been well-explained.

Either you can't or won't take a step back and see how this comes across to anyone who has the perfectly reasonable expectation that if you're going to hold up an author as setting a standard, then reading that author's work and coming to your own conclusions should at least be part of making a case. Is that really so hard for you to understand?

Originally Posted by Quandy View Post
But, unfortunately, it apparently passes as well within the "norm" here, not only by members, but by the administration as well. This I guess is why I had the impulse to post a couple of items regarding "standards" to begin with (in addition to many prior ones detailing my personal beliefs on quite a number of matters). This site is direly lacking in such, not only aesthetically, but in terms of basic civil discourse. But, to each his own. And, yes, I'm sure whoever uttered those immortal words, is probably now long since dead, too.
Have fun, y'all!
Sorry if this is "uncollegiate," but what a load of pretentious bullshit.

Of course, you don't see how unintentionally hilarious this is. You're here to tell us about standards based on your ability to randomly select an author from an encyclopedia, paste the contents into a box and hit a submit button.

So, yeah, I'm definitely having fun. But it sounds like you're going to pick up your toys and leave because things didn't pan out the way you wanted them to. Totally avoidable with a different approach that would have required a little effort and thought on your part.
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Old 05-19-2016, 05:10 AM
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Elisa/win,

I've read a fair bit of Conrad's work - not all of it by choice, admittedly, but he certainly left an impression. As you say he deals with some very important issues in an interesting way. Personally, my main criticism of his writing style is that he tends to get rather diffuse at times, but then that observation can apply to a lot of writers, especially in that era.

Anyway, it was quite an achievement to become such an important writer in English when English was his third language!

Last edited by leila; 05-19-2016 at 05:19 AM..
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  #21  
Old 05-19-2016, 06:25 AM
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Boinx, I believe Quandy has decided to leave us here. Nice logical reply though. Drinks for every one? Mmmm I only can find the scotch though.

By the way, very good points made Goblen

leila, glad you enjoy Conrad as well. Defused? Can you elaborate on this? Do you refer to his way of bringing in things that doesn't' seem to be relevant? Although when you look through the entire book, they suddenly show to be significant? I have to say, it takes a few read in order for one to really be able to take in his works. Which have you read? I have to say that despite him being one of my favourite writers, I hated him when i read him the first time. We had to read Heart of Darkness in grade ten, about 3 years ago, and man, was reading that like struggling through the Congo. Although it was probably his intension to do that. haha

Who do you find inspiring? I see you like Verne, fantastic writer. I also absolutely love his stuff. I do think his style is more sorry like, so easier to follow and understand, though he often also works with deeper themes which I find fun to discover.
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  #22  
Old 05-19-2016, 03:00 PM
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Huh. I made you say ball sack.

Okay, Balzac was influential. Who knows, without him, maybe we wouldn't have Flaubert or Proust or if you want to overstate things, realism?

As a time machine, it's fairly interesting. But as a good read? You might want to skip it. From what I've read, you have to get through a shit-load of Balzac to really catch on to what he was all about.

Given that, I have to agree, the OP is good for a laugh and not much more.

For sheer entertainment value, God bless the internet!
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  #23  
Old 05-19-2016, 10:23 PM
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Hi Elisa/win

By 'diffuse' I just mean 'rambling'.

I haven't really read that much Verne, to be honest, but I've always really liked Journey to the Centre of the Earth, from which my quote comes.

One writer I find fascinating is H G Wells. He did get rather repetitive and hopelessly Utopian in a lot of later works, but some of his earliest 'scientific romances', as he called them - The War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man etc - still really haven't been surpassed by any of the sci-fi writers that have come after, in my opinion. He had a great gift of combining imagination with realism in his writing.

Last edited by leila; 05-19-2016 at 11:45 PM..
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Old 05-23-2016, 06:26 PM
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Hey Leila. Win will do

Ah, yes, I remember Journey to the Centre of the Earth. If you liked that I think you might also like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and and The Mysterious Island, which should be read in that order.

Wells, yes, I've read some of his stuff. The Time Machine I enjoyed a lot and "The Island of Dr. Moreau".

Speaking of dystopian literature, have you read Mary Shelly's The Last man?
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:32 AM
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thanks for the Verne recommendations

I haven't read The Last Man, but the premise certainly sounds intriguing.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:16 PM
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I have read so much of Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown that if you were to present me a paragraph from a new book of either one of these two authors, I could observe the writing style and tell you which one wrote it.
Jeffrey Archer loves his snobby hollywood-ish bits.
Dan Brown loves being accurate as fuck.
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