Project Gutenberg · 58, free ebooks · by Honoré de Balzac. The Duchesse of Langeais by Honoré de Balzac. No cover available. The Duchesse de Langeais by Honore de Balzac. THE DUCHESS OF LANGEAIS. I. In a Spanish city on an island in the Mediterranean, there stands a convent. Duchesse de Langeais, The, by Balzac (), analyzes carefully the Faubourg Saint-Germain, or the aristocracy of Paris under the Restoration. In a most.

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Mass Market Paperbackpages. Published by Le Livre de Poche first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about La Duchesse De Langeaisplease sign up. Be the first to ask a question about La Duchesse De Langeais. Lists with This Book.

Conceived inhis idea was to produce a work with philosophical underpinnings which would survey all aspects of French society from the Revolution to his own time. Sep 02, Michael Finocchiaro rated it liked it Shelves: Balzac was quite a theatrical writer. Had he lived in the late 20th century, he certainly would have several award-winning Netflix series under his belt. The Duchess of Langeais is part of a trilogy starting with Ferragus and ending with The Girl with the Golden Eyes featuring spurned romance and a search for lost, unrequited love.

The pace is typically balzacienne as are the highly realistic character portrayals. This one was probably mostly dictated to ghost writers but still retains high re Balzac was quite a theatrical writer.

This one was probably mostly dictated to ghost writers but still retains high readability and a relatively original plot. Jan 01, Amanda Lila rated it it was ok.

But if you are patient enough to read that, I’m sure you will enjoy the book. Too bad that I like dialogues a lot more than descriptions, so I did not like this book as much as I first thought I would when I picked it up.

Apr 05, Jim rated it really liked it. This is one of the three novelettes that are grouped together as The History of the Thirteenalong with Ferragus: The whole notion is that there is a secret society of wealthy gentlemen in Paris called The Thirteen which has powers approaching the supernatural.

In this book, Antoinette, the Duchesse de Langeais trifles with the feelings of General Armande de Montriveau, who is a member of the Thirteen. On the advice of one of his This is one of the three novelettes that are grouped together as The History of the Thirteenalong with Ferragus: On the advice of one of his fellow members, Armande kidnaps the Duchesse and threatens to have her branded in the forehead as a criminal.

Instead, he returns her unharmed. At this point, the Duchesse suddenly conceives a grand passion for Armande, who at this point will have nothing to do with her. After repeated attempts, including having all of Paris thinking she is visiting him by having her empty carriage with its identifying family insignia parked at his apartmentsshe disappears.

Balzac shows us that love is strange. As soon as she disappears, Armande once again conceives a grand passion for her. The ending is romantic and highly tumultuous, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is interested in this relatively obscure work in the Balzac canon.

There is at one and the same time a lot of adolescent mummery regarding the Thirteen, and at the same time a subtle comedy of the impossibility of two such desirable creatures unable to love each other at the same time. Well, timing is everything, as they always say. The reason I got married was to effectively release myself from the pains and vicissitudes of a life led looking for love, so as to be able to concentrate my energies on reading, thus I am not all that interested in books about the pains and vicissitudes of lives led looking for love.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is Part 2 of the Ferragus trilogy about ‘The Thirteen’ which showcases the power and reach of the Devorants, a secret society of companions who look out for each other’s interets without morals or scruples.

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I read the translation by by Ellen Marriage. There is a convent of the Barefoot Carmelites there which had escaped the effects of the Revolution, where the nuns live in total seclusion. It was a place of refuge for many women who had reasons to withdraw from the world, but the tale begins with the determination of a French general to breach the fortress Despite the risks to his career, he is searching for someone special to him.

As the new government is established a mass is held, but he sees nothing of the nuns except that he hears one of the Sisters play the organ.

She plays Moses in Egypt, a piece of sacred music by Rossini, to whom Balzac dedicates some effusive praise as the composer who brings most human passion into his art. The general can tell that the Sister is a Frenchwoman by the passion with which she plays the fugue in the Te Deum and her inclusion of the air of Fleuve du Tage as an interlude reveals her to be his exiled lady-love expressing her pent-up emotion.

Well, when his division marches out of town, he stays behind and he goes to church. The town is farewelling the army; there is no one there at the service but him. He clanks his spurs and he talks to himself to let the nuns know there is one Frenchman left behind, and the organist plays the Magnificat with enthusiastic passion so he knows his message has been understood.

Indeed she plays with such passion as to subvert the holy role of the organ in communicating religious devotion but eventually she succumbs to that once more, ending her recital with an Amen which tells the general that their souls can only meet again in Heaven.

Back to the church next day and it’s a different organist but his disappointment is only momentary, for the soprano is his lover. He has to behave himself because his host is with him; it is he who explains the strictness of the order and that an exception can only be made for visits for very serious reasons such as illness. Permission may only be granted by the Mother Superior, and among the other foreigners is a Frenchwoman, Sister Theresa, who directs the music.

However, in the context of the fall of the Bourbons, since the general brings news from France, he is granted an interview! However when the Mother Superior realises that they know each other she curtails the interview.

Antoinette thinks quickly and identifies the General as her ‘brother’ and the interview is allowed to resume, passion restrained by the need to maintain the fiction and by Antoinette’s insistence that she can now be only Sister Theresa to him. He, now named as Armand unburdens himself, revealing that he and his powerful friends i. He begs her to join him, he can have her vows renounced by the Pope and they can live in seclusion but she refuses, and in anger he accuses her of no longer loving him.

She says she does, and that he is with her all the time in her thoughts, but unable to bear his remonstrances any longer she cries out to the Mother Superior that this man is her lover and the interview is terminated.

The Thirteen: the Duchess of Langeais by Honoré de Balzac « La Comedie Humaine by Balzac

The general takes leave from his duties and goes back to France. So, next comes the flashback. Balzac starts by describing the Faubourg Saint-Germain as the locus of society in Paris at that time. Aristocrats, he says, have always liked to live away from the hoi-polloi, and as fast as a city grows up around them to serve their needs, the sooner they take themselves off to build a new mansion somewhere else.

Balzac declares that there is nothing incongruous in this and goes on to have a little rant about there being a natural order of things where an aristocracy will always rise to the top and it would be a good thing for France if they knew it: An aristocracy is in a manner the intellect of the social system, as the middle classes and the proletariat may be said to be its organizing and working power.

It naturally follows that these forces are differently situated; and of their antagonism there is bred a seeming antipathy produced by the performance of different functions, all of them, however, existing for one common end.


Kindle Location This distinction between the upper and lower spheres of social activity, emphasized by differences in their manner of living, necessarily implies that in the highest aristocracy there is real worth and some distinguishing merit. In any state, no matter what form of “government” is affected, so soon as the patrician class fails to maintain that complete superiority which is the condition of its existence, it ceases to be a force, and is pulled down at once by the populace.

The people always wish to see money, power, and initiative in their leaders, hands, hearts, and heads; they must be the spokesmen, they must represent the intelligence and the glory of the nation. Nations, like women, love strength in those who rule them; they cannot give love without respect; they refuse utterly to obey those of whom they do not stand in awe.

An aristocracy fallen into contempt is a roi faineant, a husband in petticoats; first it ceases to be itself, and then it ceases to be. Location The mistake that aristocrats made, he says, was to hand over power to the bourgeois, leaving themselves only with the trappings of it, which brought them into contempt. There were a few intelligent ones around, but not enough, and most aristocrats were so conscious of having lost real power that they comforted themselves by acting as if they had not.

They were undisciplined, they were weak, and they were selfish.

Sidetracked by petty issues like etiquette, they wasted opportunities in and and emigrated into the countryside out of their own self-interest. Frenchwomen who might have done much to create salons for the emergence of intelligent leadership did little too. The Duchesse de Langeais had been married for four years when the Restoration took place.

Women in her family always married above their station and she was no exception. Their families had quietly supported the King during the Empire and they happily resumed the trappings of their rank when he returned. However the marriage of Antoinette and the Duke was a marriage only of convenience, and they lived apart without breaching convention, the Duchesse never forgiving her husband for some grave unspecified offence homosexuality?

Some barbarity in the bedroom? She was a star in society but she recognised that she would never achieve her ambition to have a grand reputation unless lagneais were loved — and she discovers that it is possible to invoke love without giving it. Balxac meets her match one day with the Marquis de Montriveau, Armand of the clanking spurs. His social credentials had been poor because he was in the wrong corps to impress either Napoleon or the Bourbons.

La Duchesse De Langeais by Honoré de Balzac

He was shy, he lxngeais modest, he had no swagger. He was diffident because he has learned young that life is cheap in the army. Duchessd was respected but not popular. But all that changed when he came back from Africa. He was an adventurous soul but ,a exotic expeditions in Egypt and Africa were ruinous.

His sojourn in the desert and miraculous escape from the savage tribes might well have made a most interesting novel in itself had Balzac written it – but his discoveries and research were all lost and he came back to Paris in with nothing but a reputation for courage and daring, qualities much admired in the salons of Paris. The King’s government was looking for loyal men and his friends saw to it that he was given favours including promotion.

The Duchesse of Langeais by Honoré de Balzac

He would, of course, was too noble lanheais seek any favours himself. Despite his shyness masquerading as hauteur he then became a success in society and Antoinette is interested in him at once. Hearing the amazing tale of his trek across the desert, she decides on a whim that langrais wants him as her lover, never intending to fall for him herself, but rather to have him as a conquest before any else can claim him.

He is of course, also handsome. Alas for Armand, Antoinette is his first love, and smitten, he little realises what’s in store.