Known for his magnum opus, The Human Comedy, Honoré de Balzac was one of those natural born talents that constantly went against the mold. As a child, his headstrong personality caused him much frustration as he navigated his way through grammar school. Shortly after graduation, Balzac took an apprenticeship in a law office but soon deemed the whole study of law to be inhumane and commonplace, causing him to pursue other career paths.
Before establishing his legacy as a writer, Honoré de Balzac attempted become a businessman, publisher, printer, critic, and even politician. After failing at all other occupations, Balzac delved into reflection on his life’s frustrations and challenges, the end result of which was The Human Comedy.
One of the great novelists of all literature… Balzac’s genius consists of his dynamic, unflagging, creative vigour; his superabundant imagination… his masterly portrayal of passions and his grasp of such widely differing subjects.
In his early literary career, Balzac was known for collaborating with other writers over the course of writing nine novels and several short stories, all of which he published under pseudonyms. When the author finally had the idea to create an enormous series of books that would offer a wide spectrum of all aspects of society, it is said that he ran into his sister’s apartment shouting, “I am about to become a genius!”
The Human Comedy was the first time Honoré de Balzac published under his actual name, and the total collection would become the lifetime achievement for which he was best known. Bound in full blue leather, the complete work consists of 91 finished stories, novels, and essays, and 46 unfinished works.
Balzac was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy as he wrote The Human Comedy, but still wrote the work in the style of a realist novelist. As such, many other famous authors have based their own work off of The Human Comedy, some of which include Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Émile Zola, Karl Marx, and many more.