Balzac knew many women, and to understand him fully one should studyhis relations with them. If he has portrayed them well, it is becausehe loved them tenderly, and was loved by many in return. Thesefeminine affections formed one of the consolations of his life; theynot only gave him courage but helped to soften the bitterness of histrials and disappointments.
honor of being the niece of his wife, the wonderful /Etrangere/, whom he married after seventeen years of an affection which contained episodes far more romantic than any of those which he has described in his many books, and having been brought up in the little house of the rue Fortunee, afterwards the rue Balzac, where they lived during their short married life, I can perhaps better appreciate than most people the value of these different books, none of which gives us an exact appreciation of the man or of the difficulties through which he had to struggle before he won at last the fame he deserved. And the conclusion to which I came, after having read them most attentively and conscientiously, was that it is often a great misfortune to possess that divine spark of genius which now and then touches the brow of a few human creatures and marks them for eternity with its fiery seal. Had Balzac been one of those everyday writers whose names, after having been for a brief space of time on everyone's lips, are la
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