Modeste Mignon

Modeste Mignon

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Modeste Mignon by Honoré de Balzac

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1845

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Modeste Mignon

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Modeste Mignon, a young provincial woman of romantic temperament, imagines herself to be in love with the famous Parisian poet Melchior de Canalis, whose works have filled her with passion. She corresponds with him, but he is unmoved by her attentions. Canalis invites his secretary Ernest de la Brière to deal with the matter. Ernest replies to Modeste in Canalis' name; a dangerous intrigue ensues, which sees Ernest appear in Modeste's home town disguised as Canalis. [Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley.]

Book Excerpt

the worthy man to wear green goggles for the protection of his eyes, which were constantly inflamed. The arch of each eyebrow, defined by a thin down of hair, surrounded the tortoise-shell rim of the glasses and made a couple of circles as it were, slightly apart. If you have never observed on the human face the effect produced by these circumferences placed one within the other, and separated by a hollow space or line, you can hardly imagine how perplexing such a face will be to you, especially if pale, hollow-cheeked, and terminating in a pointed chin like that of Mephistopheles,--a type which painters give to cats. This double resemblance was observable on the face of Babylas Latournelle. Above the atrocious green spectacles rose a bald crown, all the more crafty in expression because a wig, seemingly endowed with motion, let the white hairs show on all sides of it as it meandered crookedly across the forehead. An observer taking note of this excellent Norman, clothed in black and mounted on his two legs l

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