The admirers of Balzac

As I still am enchanted by ‘Lost Illusions’, I am thinking back to some famous admirers of Balzac. The artist had many fans in different walks of life. Nonetheless, the fact that he was appreciated by major philosophers is sometimes neglected in literary discussion.

For example, Friedrich Engels was particularly enthusiastic about the work of Balzac. Balzac was not an ideologue, but he depicted capitalist society in a way which Engels appreciated. Balzac knew a lot about the power of money and detailed the problems associated with debts. He had considerable experience of being in debt as Maurois has documented. Politically, Engels and Balzac were dissimilar, but the former appreciated the insights of the novelist greatly.

In 1852, Engels wrote to his friend Karl Marx:

“What can one say about a little man who, when he reads a novel by Balzac for the first time (and the Cabinet des Antiques or Père Goriot at that), is infinitely superior and speaks of it with the greatest contempt as something commonplace that has been known for a long time.”


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