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February 19, 1922 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1922-02-19

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Ilzacm- -7ealist

(By Samuel L. Greenebasm)
Philosophers, discoverers, and radi-
cals have always been held in dis-
repute. Socrates was cndemned to
die, Columbus was imprisoned, Balzac
was severely censured. Innovators
are always frowned on, and Balzac
did not escape without his share of
criticim. His "Comedie Humaine"
made him the object of many vicious
attacks by the conservatives of the
old regime. In spite of the tirade of
criticism directed at his head, he suc-
ceeded in establishing the modern
novel firmly in the honorable position
it now holds. He did not invent the
novel, he merely modernized it, He
took the old three-volume work of
Richardson and Fielding, discarded
the threadbare types in which they
dealt, and ingeniously substituted his
realistic glimpses'of life, his "Comedie
Humaine." Perhaps this is what so
astonished and dumfounded his critics,
who, since they must criticize him,
were left with only the alternative of
condemning him.
Adverse criticism rained on Balzac
from all sides. It must be added that
it was his countrymen who censored
him, his foreign admirers who fought
his cause. His enemies condemned
him on many grounds. He was said
to have no order or coherence in his
plots. He was unable to paint virtue,
he preferred to dwell on vice, which
he accepted too nonchalantly. Con-
versation in his novels was not natu-
ral; his characters were mere mouth-
pieces. His style was careless, crab-
bed, startling, but admittedly effective.
His women served for -one purpose
only, adultery. When he did try to
depict virtue, his characters became
mere colorless creatures, untrue, and
The most justifiable of the adverse
criticism he received, was that which
attacked the atmosphere of his novels.
He took pieces of reality from here
and there, worked himself into a
trance over them, and found himself
in an immense world of fantasy. Here,
he roamed at will, charmed by the
products of his own Immagination.
Quite inatrally, the effect of this
rambling in the realms of fancy is
strikingly evident in his character por-
trayals. His people continually live in
the superlative. His misers are the
personifications of avarice, his lovers
faint beneath their mistress' balconies,
his dissipated youths are always the
last to roll under the tables in the
numerous drinking bouts in which
they engage. All act their parts to
the nth degree. .There is not for an
instant the slightest doubt as to the
motives of a single character. When
once we have become acquainted with
them, we never fear that they will
surprise us with some unexpected
whim or act.
This, in the main, is the sum of the
adverse criticism which was rained
on Balzac. Thus, to form an estimate
of Balza without examining ,both
sides of the question would be to lay
oneself open to a charge of flagrant
injustice to his genius.
However much one Is prejudiced in
Balsac's favor, one must admit that
he lacks the neatness, conciseness,
and precision necessary to a finished
stylist. Upon an examination of his life,
the cause is at once evident. Like
Sir Walter Scott, he suffered business
reversals and was thus forced to write
prolifically. Looseness and incoher-
ence were the results. This was no-
ticed especially by his French critics,

to wl m style was more -important
than content. But even though in
the majority of cases Balzac's style
is loose, his art has a majestic sweep
which carries us on. Often when he
lets his fancy carry him away, he
loses us for the minute, only to return
and again place our minds abreast of

the dispassionate lens of realism that two pigments and the result is a chef
Balzac held before their eyes. By d' oeuvre so beautiful, so replete with
his bold and lucid portrayal of the soul, so poignantly touching, that one
follies of this world, he waged a con- feels bands of steel tighten around
stant war against vice, although few one's heart while reading. Old Cousin
give him credit for it. He was never Pons brings the tears to our eyes
ashamed to dive into a cesspool and with his pitiful helplessness. Pauline
expose its filth to light. Although he and Raphael de Valentin make us
was not so popular in England as Sand throb- with joy as 'we read of their
or Sue, he was considered by the sublime love and kindling passion.
erudite few to be immeasurably su- At the next moment we shudder at the
perior to either. Only too often is the reminder of the "Peau de Chagrin,"
realist cast aside, the romanticist dei- that dread talisman, that measure of
fled. their joy, that inevitable m:-ce.

Balzac was ever a calm and unbiased Say what we may, we cannot deny
observer of life. He believed, like La that Balzac's work in some fields has
Rochefoucauld, that man was moti- never been surpassed. No novelist of
vated chiefly by egotism and the desire any time has so filled his works with
for gain. Those who censored him pure emotion and breathing reality
most. severely were, for the most part, as has Balzac. Love and pathos are
superficial students of life who were the two colors in which his portraits
afraid to look at the world through abound. Often too, he mixes these

Awe, -najesty, passion, pathos, all
fight for the foremost place in Balzac's
"Comedie Humaine." One by one they
attack us, each succeded by another,
as we sit and see the ever-changing
panorama displayed before "us. The
banquet scene in the "Wild Ass's
(Continued on Page 8)

; I

Di o kno - a th ee
daintiest silk undergarments are
made of pongeel Tailored styles,
for tise most part, with occasional
teaches of hemeticiring and em-
broidery. .
There are envelope, there are
gowns and pajamas, bloomers ad
step-ins. Priced as low as $1.
Second Floor

are characterized by their
soft fabrics, simple lines
$25-$49. 50
T HERE are almost as many kinds of wraps
as the day has hours but a partial spring
has awarded her high honors to luxurious long
sports coats of soft English wools with gay
plaids of color.
They're tailored - very much so. In fact,
the only deviation form a severe style is that
some have their belts inside, permitting the
back to hang straight, while others' are worn
outside the garment. But - a provident de-
signer has made it possible to have either style
with the one coat!
Second Floor

Win.-Goodyear 8& Co.


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