My 1st attempt at Balzac, very interesting, very surprising.
I had no idea what to expect; it is typical in many ways of the period even references J F Cooper's The Prairie. Balzac makes many references to the great expanses of the French country and as with many of his contemporaries waxes on about the beauty.
Without an in depth knowledge of French History it is a little hard to get the whole intent of the Author. I have never read of such things (in the last 1/4 of the book) regarding the politics of family and State economics. The issue of land divided equally between all siblings bringing about the ultimate result of a "land rich, income poor" populace.
It was very difficult for me to determine which side of the politics he is on. In one moment he praises modern developments, the next he yearns for a return to the Church as central to daily life. Disdain for the ruling bureaucracy is clear but the hope of fixing it with the new young people is clear as well.
In general a very optimistic look at how and and what makes a comfortable society. He was influenced by the great outlook that was at this point of time in history, one of Science and Engineering. It was only at the very end that he gets almost as sappy as does Burnett in the The Secret Garden.
One of those books that intrigues and echos thru your head over and again.
A I love to read "books that are referenced in books" Balzac has Madame G reading and being transformed by the Paul et Virginie, I wonder if there is a good English trans?
Many insightful comments:
Ever since that event the profound politicians who exercise the censorship of sentiments, and settle other people's business in the intervals of whist.
He made it clear that great things would be the result of the presence of a rich and charitable resident in the parish, by pointing out that the duties of the poor towards the beneficent rich were as extensive as the rich towards the poor.
In Gerard's letter to Grossetete he is disappointed with his life:
Again and again in fact we have admitted to each other in confidence that we are victims of a long mystification which we only discover when it is too late too draw, back when the mill- horse is used to the round, and the sick man accustomed to his disease