For A Woman Knows

“A letter is a soul, so faithful an echo of the speaking voice that to the sensitive it is among the richest treasures of love.” 
Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot


Honoré de Balzac was born May 20, 1799, just six years after the deaths of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  He was only in his 16th year when Napoléon Bonaparte fell from power.   He is known for his magnum opus La Comédie humaine, which was a sequence of nearly 100 novels and plays that reflected life in France after 1815, sans Napoléon.

Honoré de Balzac was a headstrong child, who rejected the stringent teaching methodology of his grammar school.  Even as an adult, his intractable temperament was incompatible with his aspiration to succeed in business.  He studied, but disliked law.  He tried a variety of careers including politics, printing, and publishing, all of which, fortunately, ended in abject failure.  Instead, he became a novelist and playwright, who would inspire other writers, the likes of Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, and many others. Even philosophers Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx felt his influence.

Honoré de Balzac once wrote, “for a woman knows the face of the man she loves like a sailor knows the open sea.”   Who loved him with such depth? Eveline Hańska, a Polish noblewoman, began reading his novels in the late 1820’s.   One day in 1832, she sent him a letter anonymously, which was the genesis of a correspondence that spanned decades. Their mutual admiration led to their eventual marriage, six months before he passed away on August 18, 1850.  This is an excerpt from Honoré de Balzac’s love letter to Eveline Hańska dated October 6, 1833.

“Our love will bloom always fairer, fresher, more gracious, because it is a true love, and because genuine love is ever increasing.  It is a beautiful plant growing from year to year in the heart, ever extending its palms and branches, doubling every season its glorious cluster and perfumes; and my dear life, tell me, repeat to me always, that nothing will bruise its bark or its delicate leaves, that it will grow larger in both our hearts, loved free, watched over, like a life within our life…”


18 thoughts on “For A Woman Knows

    • He had a flair for titles. I just found The Wild Ass’s Skin on Amazon and can download it on Kindle. You were so very lucky to be able to read it in the original language and experience the nuance that would have been lost in translation!!! 🙂


  1. Balzac was also a mean coffee fiend. Lost Illusions and The Unknown Masterpiece are two of his works I like, especially the latter.

    One correction: Balzac died in 1850.


    • And speaking of coffee, I am heading out to get my coffee before the start of the day! Thank you for the correction!! 1882 was when Eveline Hańska passed away. BTW, she had an extraordinary life herself. And thanks for the reading recommendation. I just went on and downloaded the Kindle for 30 cents!! I do enjoy our conversations!!!


    • I agree wholeheartedly. He was a witness to an extraordinary time in history. But then, when wasn’t history extraordinary? 🙂 At the moment, we are living history…


    • I can only imagine!!!! We don’t keep that type of correspondence as often these days. As I was looking up the letters of John Keats, Rabindranath Tagore, F. Scott Fitzgerald etc, I realized that we rarely keep our correspondence, simply because we don’t think it is that important or interesting. Perhaps it will be to someone in the future….something to think about.


    • And I just downloaded his “The Unknown Masterpiece and Other Stories” via Amazon onto my Kindle. The cost – only thirty cents Canadian. Now, all I need to do is find the time to read it!!!🙂 If you know how to stretch time, I am open to suggestions.


  2. I am catching up, so much to read now you are giving us great authors will look for books 😉, I love letters and these post are just wonderful, there is a different kind of language in a letter there is a true emotions when someone writes, what a beautiful letter like this part…loved free.


    • Thank you so much for your comments! I have been learning as I go along. We think that our generation is facing the greatest dangers, yet there have been many before us that encountered difficult times where courage and fortitude were required! We can learn much from their examples.

      Have a wonderful day. The sun is setting on a day of sunshine in Vancouver!


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