This is seldom more evident than in Eugene Grandet, one of the earliest and finest of the novels in his great work. The love of money and passionate pursuit of it are seen as a driving force in post-Revolutionary France, and are studied in detail in the character of Grandet. In a house in provincial Saumur lives the miser Grandet with his wife and his daughter, Eugenie, who both suffer under the stifling shadow of his obsession with gold. But the arrival of her cousin, Charles, causes Eugenie's own desires to burn. The inevitable collision with her father, and the tragedy which follows, is described by Balzac with irony and characteristic psychological insight.
The son of a civil servant, Honoré de Balzac was born in 1799 in Tours, France. After attending boarding school in Vendôme, he gravitated to Paris where he worked as a legal clerk and a hack writer, using various pseudonyms, often in collaboration with other writers. Balzac turned exclusively to fiction at the age of thirty and went on to write a large number of novels and short stories set amid turbulent nineteenth-century France. He entitled his collective works The Human Comedy. Along with Victor Hugo and Dumas père and fils, Balzac was one of the pillars of French romantic literature. He died in 1850, shortly after his marriage to the Polish countess Evelina Hanska, his lover of eighteen years.
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