Balzac, the most “economist” of French authors

All his life, Balzac was crumbled in debt. When he embarked on the literary career, after the bankruptcy of his printing press in 1828, he was in debt of 60,000 francs, the equivalent of more than 200,000 euros today. When he died in 1850, his accounts showed a liability of 260,000 francs! Did Balzac write to pay off his debts or did he go into debt to force himself to write? Without the constant pressure of what he called his “floating debt”, the writer would probably not have left a work as monumental as The Human Comedy, with its 91 novels and 2,504 characters. Balzac’s pecuniary obsession has made him the most “economist” of French writers, “a brain filled with figures like the cabinet of a financier,” said Baudelaire. In his work, money is omnipresent. “He counts the fortune of his characters, explains their origin, the ac[…]

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