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An NYRB Classics Original
Characters from every corner of society and all walks of lifelords and ladies, businessmen and military men, poor clerks, unforgiving moneylenders, aspiring politicians, artists, actresses, swindlers, misers, parasites, sexual adventurers, crackpots, and moremove through the pages of The Human Comedy, Balzacs multivolume magnum opus, an interlinked chronicle of modernity in all its splendor and squalor. The Human Comedy includes the great roomy novels that have exercised such a sway over Balzacs many literary inheritors, from Dostoyevsky and Henry James to Marcel Proust; it also contains an array of short fictions in which Balzac is at his most concentrated and forceful. Nine of these, all newly translated, appear in this volume, and together they provide an unequaled overview of a great writers obsessions and art. Here are The Duchesse de Langeais, A Passion in the Desert, and Sarrasine; tales of madness, illicit passion, ill-gotten gains, and crime. What unifies them, Peter Brooks points out in his introduction, is an incomparable storytellers fascination with the power of storytelling, while throughout we also detect what Proust so admired: the mysterious circulation of blood and desire.