Book of the month: May
The book of May is a classic novel by Honoré de Balzac (20 May 1799 - 18 August 1850), a French novelist and playwright best know for his Comédie humaine, a collection of writings that presents a mosaic of post-Napoleonic life in France.
He is regarded as one of the founders of Realism in European Literature thanks to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society. His novels are so "real" and offer us such an accurate and impartial view of life and culture back then that it almost feels wrong to simply label them as work of fiction.
The book I read this month is called "Eugénie Grandet" and it tells the story of a father who could only thin of gold; and a daughter who could only think of love...
It is a beautiful story that, depicting the fatal clash between material desires and the liberating power of love, offers us a glimpse into the life in France in the 1800's: the pursuit of wealth and power, the human cost of avarice, the way women were treated, and the power and beauty of pure and innocent love.
One of my favorite passages of the book is:
"Into a girl's innocent and uneventful life there comes a day marked with delight, when the sun's rays seem to shine into her very soul, when a flower looks like the expression of her thoughts, when her heart beats more quickly and her quickened brain, in sympathy, ceases to think at all, but all ideas are dissolved in a feeling of undefined longing. It is a time of innocent sadness and vague joys that have no sharpness of edge. When babies first observe the things around them, they smile: when a girl first dimly perceives the existence of love, she smiles as she smiled when a child. If the light is the first thing we turn to with love, surely it is love that first brings light to the heart? This day had dawned for Eugénie. She had begun to see life clearly for the first time".
You can find this novel at most second-hand book stores; that's where I got mine - for only $3.
Happy reading! :)