Book//mark – A Woman of Thirty | Honoré de Balzac, 1842

Book//mark - A Woman of Thirty | Honoré de Balzac, 1842

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)              Honoré de Balzac, A Woman of Thirty, 1842


“One warm August evening in 1821 two people were climbing the paths cut in the crags above the chateau, doubtless for the sake of the view from the heights above…Arthur led her with a lover’s care, helping her up the pathway as if she had been a child, finding the smoothest ways, avoiding the stones for her, bidding her see glimpses of distance, or some flower beside the path, always with the unfailing goodness, the same delicate design in all that he did; the intuitive sense of this woman’s wellbeing seemed to be innate in him, and as much, nay, perhaps more, a part of his being as the pulse of his own life…they stoppe d as their senses received the same impression;every word and every glance told of the same thought in either mind. ”

“Love has its own instinct, finding the way to the heart, as the feeblest insect finds
the way to its flower, with a will which nothing can dismay nor turn aside.”

“Reason always cuts a poor figure beside sentiment; the one being essentially
restricted, like everything that is positive, while the other is infinite.”

“Love takes on the hue of every age. In 1822 love is a doctrinaire. Instead of proving
love by deeds, as in times past, we have taken to argument and rhetoric and debate.”

“Pascal said that “the doubt of God implies belief in God.” And similarly
it may be said that a woman only parleys when she has surrendered.”

“There are thoughts which determine our conduct, while we do not so much as suspect
their existence. If at first sight this assertion appears to be less a truth than a paradox,
let any candid inquirer look into his own life and he shall find abundant
confirmation therein.”

“One evening the two lovers sat alone and side by side, silently watching one of the fairest
transformations of the sky, a cloudless heaven taking hues of pale gold and purple from the
last rays of the sunset. With the slow fading of the daylight, sweet thoughts seem to awaken,
and soft stirrings of passion, and a mysterious sense of trouble in the midst of calm. Nature
sets before us vague images of bliss, bidding us enjoy the happiness within our reach, or lament
it when it has fled. In those moments fraught with enchantment, when the tender light in the
canopy of the sky blends in harmony with the spells working within, it is difficult to resist the
heart’s desires grown so magically potent. Cares are blunted, joy becomes ecstasy; pain,
intolerable anguish. The pomp of sunset gives the signal for confessions and draws them
forth. Silence grows more dangerous than speech for it gives to eyes all the power of the
infinite of the heavens reflected in them. And for speech, the least word has irresistible might.
Is not the light infused into the voice and purple into the glances? Is not heaven within us,
or do we feel that we are in the heavens?”

“The influence of places upon us is a fact worth remarking.”

“Julie, I will not say a word of my love; we understand each other too well. Deeply and
carefully though I have hidden the pleasures of my heart, you have shared them all,
I feel it, I know it, I see it.”

“Would it not be an error to suppose that the same sentiment can be reproduced in us?
Once develop the power to feel, is it not always there in the depths of our nature?
The accidents of life may lull or awaken it, but there it is, of necessity modifying
the self, its abiding place.”

 Honoré de Balzac, A Woman of Thirty, 1842


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