The Writing Racket: Balzac’s ‘Lost Illusions’

During his lifetime, Balzac’s debts were as famous as his novels and more widely discussed than his love affairs. Money was the great unifying subject of La Comédie humaine and the legal and moral dimensions of debt were an important subcategory that he treated with great care and attention. In his novel Les Souffrances de l’inventeur — the third book of Illusions perdues — the provincial printer David Sechard is financially ruined by three promissory notes forged by his brother-in-law Lucien de Rubempré, a poet and journalist driven to desperation by the carnivorous world of literary Paris. The book details various aspects of debt collection: the extortionate fees added by creditors and their lawyers to increase the sum total owed; the character and methods of their ruthless bailiffs; the lengths taken and tricks required by debtors to avoid losing their possessions and even their liberty. This was a subject, like most others, that Balzac knew a lot about, in this case through personal experience. Balzac owed money to practically everybody he knew: friends, family members, bankers and other writers; his greatest money lenders included Baron James de Rothschild, his Polish lover Eveline Hanska and his own mother (who he also accused of ruining his life). For Balzac, borrowing and owing money was an expression of love and friendship, but to his friends and lovers it was a consistent source of irritation and despair. In 1838, Théophile Gautier noticed a black-bound book on Balzac’s shelf titled Comptes melancoliques and asked what it was. “You can keep it,” Balzac replied, “It’s an unpublished work, but it has its value” (1): the book was a record of unpaid bills and summonses. Returning from one of his periodic trips to Italy, where he was consistently and gratifyingly fêted by local aristocracy, he visited his financial advisers in Paris to review the situation: each one told him that his best course of action was to flee the city immediately, which he did. Balzac’s debts multiplied throughout his life, pushing him to artistic immortality and an early grave: the ferocious creative energy that produced La Comédie humaine and destroyed his health was generated by the desperate need to pay off his creditors as much as any of his other motivations (although he rarely paid them anyway). Whether consciously or not, owing large sums of money to lots of people gave Balzac focus by providing an immediate material need for his prodigious, coffee-fueled writing bouts. 

As Balzac shows us in Illusions perdues, debt was the common lot of the Parisian writer without independent means during the venal and materialistic years of the second Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy. For the parasitic hacks of the petits journaux, popular commercial novelists and playwrights like Eugene Sue and contemporary masters like Victor Hugo, spending money was the only way to establish a career as any kind of writer in Paris. As the publisher Dauriat explains bluntly to Lucien when negotiating the purchase of his first book of poems Les Marguerites, “fame costs twelve thousand francs in reviews and three thousand francs in dinners” (2). This was partly reality, and partly a philosophy, and one that Balzac practiced fully: he borrowed money he did not have, to spend money that he had not yet earned in order to increase his prospects of artistic and commercial success through expensive social climbing, thereby earning the money he needed to pay back his creditors. As Eugène de Rastignac tells Raphaël de Valentin in La Peau de chagrin, “When a man spends his time squandering his fortune, he’s very often on to a good thing: he is investing his capital in friends, pleasure, protectors and acquaintances” (3). The problem was that Balzac’s extravagant instincts always outran his earning capacity and his speculations invariably led to losses and ruin, often through bad luck and unfortunate timing rather than any inherent flaw in his schemes. (It is striking that his fictional speculators such as Baron de Nucingen invariably made better financial decisions than Balzac ever did in his own life, but also how often his real life ventures led to success for others at a later stage.)

Balzac always tried to make a distinction between purely commercial hack work written to pay the bills, and serious artistic production — a distinction marked in his own life by the early medieval romance and Gothic horror stories published under the pseudonyms Lord R’Hoone and Horace de Saint Aubin and the novels published under his own name, starting with Les Chouans in 1829. The two worlds of commerce and art are segregated morally and aesthetically in Illusions perdues by the dramatic contrast drawn between the cynical journalistic milieu of Etienne Lousteau and the ascetic circle of Daniel D’Arthez and the ‘Cenacle’. But for Balzac this distinction was never so clear in practice: all of his work, including his greatest novels, was driven by commercial considerations and pressing financial needs. When Balzac described himself as “a natural accountant” to Eve Hanska she responded with justifiable scorn, having just seen a large chunk of her own money squandered on his railway investments and his purchase and lavish decoration of a house on the Champs-Élysées that she did not ask for or want, but in one way he was correct: he could exactly calibrate the material return on writing words and paid extremely close attention to his own earning potential. The journalists and publishers of Un Grand homme de province à Paris — the second volume of Illusions perdues — quantify books and magazine columns, lines and words, in precise remunerative and temporal detail, in exactly the same way that Balzac did in his own life. When Lucien first enters the offices of a Paris newspaper he watches an unnamed writer register a complaint to the editor about his pay: “Look here, Giroudeau…my count is eleven columns, and at five francs each that makes fifty-five francs. I’ve only had forty, therefore you still owe me fifteen francs…” (4). Later, the literary shark Finot offers Lousteau a position on a liberal newspaper he has just gained control of in the following terms: “You’ll get paid for all the articles at a rate of five francs a column: in this way you can reap a bonus of fifteen francs a day by only paying three francs a column and by saving on unpaid articles” (5). Lousteau also schools Lucien in the critics’ art of selling complementary theatre seats and review copies of books for extra spending money, a practice close to the heart of all freelance critics. Because of the precarious and highly competitive position of the professional writer, each word is measured in money, energy and time, and life is a desperate scramble for new sources of income, however small.

In Balzac’s own life as well as the corrupt world of Lousteau, a mercenary attitude to creation was necessary for success if not survival — but where Balzac resembled D’Arthez is that he was also willing to work for it. As early as 1819, before he had written a novel and when he was planning his abortive verse drama Cromwell, Balzac could already reason: “a tragedy is normally supposed to contain 2000 lines. That means having between 8 and 10,000 thoughts, without counting all the other thoughts needed for the ideas, the plan, the characters, the customs of the time…” (6). A list of projects scribbled on a note from 1822 is headed, “ORDER OF THE DAY. Make 3000 francs or it’s Dishonour, Destitution and Co.” (7). Despite his veneration of D’Arthez, Balzac himself could be stung by the misplaced purism of part of the Parisian literary elite:

He felt it to be hypocrisy when a writer like Astolphe de Custine, whose inherited fortune permitted him to disdain the one he might have gained by his pen, spoke in praise of asceticism and the pride of Rousseau as opposed to the writers who commercialised their talents. Balzac replied that Rousseau’s Confessions contain a lengthy account of the negotiations which finally brought him an income of 600 francs, and that Racine, like Moliere and Boileau, had not been above accepting royal patronage. A writer in 1837, if he wished to earn a living, was obliged to take account of popular taste and the bookseller’s convenience. (8)

The world of writers is divided by the high ideals of art and the low reality of making a living and this divide spawns hypocrisy, duplicity, treachery and corruption. Un Grand homme de province à Paris is an unsparing exposé of “the writing racket”: “how publishers pull their strings and how literary reputations are concocted…the play of wheels within wheels in Parisian life, the machinery behind it all” (9). In Balzac’s world money determines human agency, and the composition of the first volume of Illusions perdues — titled Les Deux poètes and published in 1837 — was a good example of the material demands of the book trade that Balzac describes. In 1836, the publisher Madame Bechet filed an injunction that required him to deliver the final two volumes he owed her within twenty-four days, or face a fine of fifty francs for each day’s delay. In response, Balzac left Paris and wrote Les Deux poètes — a rich portrait of the social mores, class relations, provincial bigotry and romantic dreams of the inhabitants of Angoulême, all drawn in precise historic and geographical detail — within twenty days. As Balzac’s biographer Andre Maurois wrote, “he had never written anything better. Misfortune lent an edge to his gifts…” (10).

If the first volume of Illusions perdues, completed in such circumstances, was fueled by “bitter melancholy” then the second volume seemed to be driven by deeper furies: the romantic illusions of poetry and the literary life, shared by Lucien and his mentor and lover Madame de Bargeton in the provincial isolation of Angoulême, are systematically dismantled by the hard, materialistic reality of Paris. But this ruthless destruction of illusions is experienced not just by Lucien, but also any reader who shares his idealised assumptions: literature is reduced to a product and writing is exposed as a trade that, on its wilder fringes, shares overlaps with the criminal underworld (as Lousteau demonstrates, to Lucien’s horror, blackmail is an important weapon in a journalist’s arsenal). Balzac takes care to describe the different types of publishers active in Paris in the 1820s but they are all united by their lack of scruples and hostility to any work that does not sell: poetry, in particular, is treated with mockery and disdain because, just like now, hardly anybody buys it. Lucien’s illusions about the material, rather than aesthetic, worth of his debut volume Les Marguerites do not last beyond his first exposure to the publishers of the Galeries de Bois, who also operate as booksellers and wholesalers: “‘I shouldn’t have gone there,’ he told himself; but he was nonetheless struck by the brutally materialistic aspect that literature could assume” (11). (It is worth noting here that Lucien’s sonnets were actually written by and purchased from Charles Laissally and Théophile Gautier for unattributed use in the novel.) Publishers are “speculators in literature” and, like newspaper editors, exploit their considerable positions of power over writers. The worth of literature is defined by the volumes sold, and by this calculation poetry has no value at all. 

The reality of power in the literary marketplace and its relation to both money and social prestige is the key to Balzac’s savage portrayal of the trade of journalism, to which Lucien succumbs and which totally corrupts him. Balzac’s enmity for the press is ferocious (“an inferno, a bottomless pit of iniquity, falsehood and treachery,” 12) and so it is worth remembering that all of the corrupt and cynical practices and attitudes he portrays are ones that he had himself used and held as a newspaper critic. The fact that by the time he came to write Un grand homme de province à Paris he had also been the victim of a coordinated critical assault partly explains the fury of his exposé. The book was a brave and reckless attack on the press from which Balzac suffered for the rest of his life. However, like Milton, who he read carefully, Balzac could not contain the allure of evil. In Paris Lucien is caught between two mentors, D’Arthez and his “system of resigned poverty” and dedication to art, and Lousteau’s “militant doctrine” of money, intrigue, immediate gratification and temporary fame. The austere scribe in his dank garret is no competition for Lousteau’s dark energy and dangerous wit and Lucien is easy prey. The journalist’s Satanic soliloquy in the Luxembourg Gardens, directly inspired by Lucien’s guileless recital of his sonnets, is the triumphant, bleak, black heart of the novel, a tour de force of applied cynicism and ferocious materialism. “I soon discovered the hard facts of the writer’s trade, the difficulty of getting into print and the brutal reality of poverty,” Lousteau begins, “underneath your beautiful dream-world is the turmoil of men, passions and needs” (13). Literature is a world of “systematic warfare” and “ignoble conflicts”, where success and failure is decided “behind the scenes”; for Lousteau, as for Lucien, the effort is impossible to sustain without the material benefits of journalism, a system of conditional alliance, commercial opportunism, bribery, plagiarism and targeted polemic. Lousteau, like Lucien, has followed the flight from the provinces to the capital in search of literary fame, only to “fall into the pit of misery, the mire of journalism, the morass of the book-trade.” In the face of such disappointment, journalism becomes a method of survival and a weapon to be used: “at this trade,” Lousteau explains, “as a hired assassin of ideas, industrial, literary and dramatic reputations — I make fifty francs a week.” Fame costs money, but also depends on the courage to take chances and the ability to create luck: 

outside the literary world…there’s not a single person who knows what a fearful Odyssey one has to pass through in order to acquire what one must call, according to the diversity of talents, popularity, vogue, reputation, renown, celebrity, public favour, the successive rungs of the ladder leading to fame…the attainment of this brilliant zenith depends on so many and so rapidly varying chances that no example has occurred of any two men reaching it by the same route. 

The force of this exposition came from Balzac’s own bitter struggle for success and its truth can be confirmed by any writer working today who is prepared to be honest about their own success or their failure.

What Balzac registers in the characters of Lousteau and the other editors and critics he creates in Illusions perdues (Finot, Blondet, Lucien himself) is the simple power of the press to make or destroy reputations, whether among the aristocrats of the Faubourg Saint-Germain or the playwrights and actresses of the Parisian stages. This power is both seductive and absolute so long as you do not become its target, from which few are safe. Lousteau illustrates this power and its attractions to Lucien, as the poet prepares to write his first theatre review and seal the stage reputation of his future lover, Coralie:

Be hard and witty for a month or two, you’ll be swamped with invitations and actresses’ parties; you’ll be courted by their lovers…At five o’clock this evening, at the Luxembourg, you didn’t know what to do with yourself: now you’re about to become one of the hundred privileged persons who foist their opinions on the French public. In three days’ time, if we succeed, by printing thirty bon mots at the rate of three per diem you can make a man curse the day he was born; you can draw a regular income — in sensual pleasure — from all the actresses in your theatre; you can make a good play fall flat and send the whole of Paris flocking to a bad one. (14)

For Lucien, like Balzac and like any writer, the temptations and satisfactions are multiple and overlapping: they include desire, revenge, influence, intrigue and fame, with money and art somewhere on the list too. Lucien is quickly seduced by the well-dressed, hard-drinking, fast-spending, sharp-witted journalists of the theatre boxes, admiring and then emulating “the damascene armour of their vices and the glittering helmet of their cold analysis…the atrocious power they wielded” (15).

The practice of journalism in Restoration Paris is unavoidably and enjoyably corrupting: writing, for Lousteau, Finot, Blondet and Lucien, serves political ends that exist apart from principles. Opinions are formulated in line with immediate circumstances, as Finot declares when launching his liberal magazine: “although my opinions are undergoing a necessary transformation so that I can take over the editorship of the Review of whose destinies you are aware, my convictions remain the same…Circumstances vary, principles don’t change” (16). In this atmosphere, art is also closely linked, and even subordinated, to politics: Balzac takes care to elucidate the connections between the literary movements and political parties of the Restoration era. During Finot’s magazine launch, Lousteau even drags Lucien’s sonnets into the conflict, exploiting their aesthetic properties as a political weapon: 

We want to be useful to our new comrade. Lucien has two books to publish: a collection of sonnets and a novel. The power of the paragraph must make him a great poet within three months! We’ll use his Marguerites in order to decry Odes, Ballads and Meditations, in fact all Romantic poetry. (17)

In the 1820s — the time period of Illusions perdues — French literary romanticism was influenced by Walter Scott and medievalism and aligned with the Catholicism and monarchism of the Bourbon restoration. Louis XVIII was a patron of poetry and helped establish the career of Victor Hugo by giving him a pension of 1000 francs. For the arts, the atmosphere of Restoration France was a relief after the austere and censored years of the Empire. In this context, then, liberalism and republicanism stood in opposition to romanticism, a situation that would reverse in the years preceding the revolution of 1830 and the July Monarchy. After Lucien has recited his first sonnet in the Luxembourg Gardens, Lousteau’s immediate response is: “Are you a classicist or a romantic?” The significance of this question has to be explained to Lucien:

My friend you are coming into the thick of a fierce battle and must make a prompt decision. Literature is primarily divided into several zones; but our great men are divided into two camps. The royalists are romantics, the liberals are classicists. Divergence in literary opinion is added to divergence in political opinion: hence war between fading and budding reputations, a war in which no weapons are barred: ink spilt in torrents, cutting epigrams, stinging calumnies, unrestrained abuse…If you stand aloof you will stand alone. Which side will you take? (18)

Lucien’s answer is the correct one and reveals his future development before he has even taken one first step in that direction: “Which is the stronger party?” Political and aesthetic territory is clearly demarcated and determines the decisions made about literary success and failure. Book reviews do not describe the relative worth of the work: they are used as the starting point for a political polemic, and aesthetic merit is therefore decided by political utility. There is, of course, no guarantee that the reviewer even shares the political opinions that he is espousing in order to make or break a reputation. This, then, is the art of criticism that Lucien, under Lousteau’s tutelage, masters. 

If art is subordinated to politics then the literary world is also a world of political alliance and rivalry. As Lousteau tells Lucien early on, success requires influential friends and powerful allies: networking is key. “Today, in order to succeed, one needs to be in with such people. It’s all a matter of chance, you see. The most dangerous thing is to churn out wit all alone in the corner” (19). Lucien’s career is destroyed when he switches literary and political allegiance too abruptly: he does not prepare the ground in order to retain the subterranean loyalty of his former allies and so finds himself isolated. Balzac draws a sharp distinction between the conditional and parasitic alliances between journalists and the true bond of friendship and mutual esteem that exists between artists, idealised in Balzac’s group portrait of the Cenacle. The world of journalism is defined by competition and riven by jealousy, and Balzac, a keen observer of human types, has a lot to say about the special quality of envy that exists between writers. When Lucien recites one of his better sonnets, he is chilled by Lousteau’s “inscrutable calm”:

Had he had more experience of literary life, he would have known that, with writers, silence and curtness in such circumstances betoken the jealousy aroused by a fine work, just as their admiration denotes the pleasure they feel on listening to a mediocre work which confirms them in their self-esteem. (20)

Lousteau enlightens Lucien to the behaviour that results from this professional rivalry: “believe me, the author in fashion is harder and more insolent towards newcomers than the most brutal publisher: the one shows you out, the other tramples on you” (21). Vanity is also key to the psychology of writers: “no words, no description can depict the fury of writers when their amour-propre is wounded, nor the energy they can tap when they feel the prick of the poisoned darts of mockery” (22). In 1825, Balzac’s friend Jean Thomassy had written to warn him that “the whole-time man of letters is always tainted with envy; whereas those with other resources are only light-heartedly envious, having achieved other things” (23). When Balzac received this letter he had already reached the point of exhaustion and disgust with the machinations and intrigues of literary Paris. He knew the savage resentment that talent and success bred in this milieu having experienced an intense critical backlash caused by the jealousy of his contemporaries. His friends tried very hard to destroy him. Lucien, who matches good looks with a flair for elegant polemic, has an immediate impact with his first theatre review to a degree that sets up his downfall, as Balzac hints early on:

Looking at Lousteau, he thought: ‘There’s a friend!’ without suspecting that Lousteau already feared him as a dangerous rival. Lucien had made the mistake of expending too much wit: a dull article would have served him admirably. Blondet counterbalanced the envy that was gnawing at Lousteau by telling Finot that one had to surrender to such forceful talent. This verdict determined Lousteau’s conduct: he resolved to remain friendly with Lucien and come to an understanding with Finot in order to exploit so dangerous a newcomer by keeping him in a state of need. (24)

Thus begins Lucien’s sensual corruption and descent into debt, partly orchestrated by his friends and rivals in order to neutralise him and destroy him if necessary (it proves necessary). 

This network of alliance and rivalry underpins the rise and fall of reputations. Critical reviews are not to be taken at face value: in Balzac’s Paris they do not necessarily describe or evaluate a work of art, but serve a function in a social and professional matrix. Balzac knew this because he was part of it: he had written many rave reviews about his own books under pseudonyms in journals that were friendly to him. He had also seen his best novels consistently attacked by his rivals despite, and usually because of, his success and fame across Europe. According to Balzac, the literary world of the 1820s was a world of fabricated reviews, paid applause, reputational sabotage and professional treachery. In this environment, it was necessary for a writer to trade in duality and duplicity in order to succeed. Artistic principles and professional integrity are among the illusions that Lucien loses. The work of journalism is the creation of illusion: opinions do not reflect real convictions but temporary tactical positions that remain invisible to the readers. In Restoration Paris, journalists and writers were closely tied to the theatre and the underworld of prostitution and in Balzac’s novel theatre and prostitution also function as metaphors for writers and writing. Lucien, unable to resist the pleasures of the theatre, its actresses and artists, as well as the aristocrats who form the theatre-going elite, glimpses the unreality of this world on his first visit backstage with Lousteau: 

The magic of the scenery, the spectacle of pretty women filling the boxes, the blazing lights, the resplendent enchantment of back-cloths and new costumes gave place to coldness, desolation, darkness, emptiness. Everything looked hideous. Lucien’s surprise was indescribable. (25) 

It is in the end no more alluring than the garret, but more likely to lead to defeat and decadence and destitution. The young, hungry writer, dazzled by his own power, fueled by vanity and the need to pay for his place in the dance, is unable to see the reality or the danger of his position.

Reading Illusions perdues now it is easy to see it simply as a cautionary tale of a writer trying to make it in the big city, or to defuse it in the way that contemporary critics did as “a satirical view of the Parisian book trade” — or, perhaps worst of all, to enervate it using the jargon of critical theory as a “reflexive novel” (26). I mean, it is all of these things, but the energy and relevance of the book resides in its violently offensive qualities and Balzac’s willingness to expose the vanities and delusions of his own world. This is fissile material because the rivalries, motivations and the conditions of writing and publishing that Balzac describes still exist, but with updated variations and innovations. Balzac’s social networking among the literary and aristocratic elites of Paris, the control he attempted to maintain over his own image, the money he spent on champagne, tailored clothes and elaborate canes “of gold or rhinoceros-horn gleaming with precious stones” (27) foreshadow the marketing demands made of writers today: the need to publicise yourself on social media, to develop and protect your brand on behalf of publishing agents, in order to secure future work. Meanwhile, and miraculously, writers remain infatuated with their own profile, a situation intensified and limited by the very social media platforms they depend upon for success. In the same way that Lucien discovers, too late, that he is not really free to write what he thinks, writers today find themselves captured by the social and rhetorical limits and expectations of their niche publics. They must be careful what they write or say on all occasions and across all platforms to avoid losing their constituency of readers and allies and, indeed, prospects of work. At the same time they also need to provide a consistent  stream of topical commentary, however unnecessary or perfunctory, in order to maintain visibility; ideas and opinions, in this context, do not really exist for their own sake, but to advertise and protect the position of a writer within a social and professional network, just like Restoration Paris. Finally, payment remains precarious, with writers being exposed to  similar exploitations and temptations as Lucien in 1821, and being forced to find income streams anywhere they can like Balzac throughout his own career. Over this whole pitiless landscape hovers the grey clouds of publishing schedules, portfolios and KPIs. 

So Balzac was not sitting in splendid isolation composing a philosophical construction: Un Grand homme de province à Paris was not La Peau de chagrin, it was a declaration of total war on the literary elite of Paris and the nascent world of commercial publishing, gestating in the 1820s and still present now. Balzac took the material reality of professional writing apart piece by piece — from the production of paper to the economics of printing to the critical stratagems that make or break careers, and everything in between — laying it all out for his readers to look upon and, presumably, recoil from. This was not a literary experiment, or a joke: it had serious implications for him, both personally and professionally. Aside from the fact that he didn’t really write very good plays, Balzac did not stand a chance on the Parisian stage after Illusions perdues: the critics not only demolished him in their theatre reviews, but, in the manner outlined in his book, they paid for hostile audiences. “They want to scalp me,” he commented after The Princess of Modena opened to a carefully arranged empty house, “and I want to drink out of their skulls” (28).

The novel, then, both portrayed and embodied the mixed motivations of writers and writing: in the case of Balzac and his cast of hacks and geniuses in Illusions perdues that included the pursuit of money and fame, basic creative and erotic needs, the desire to dominate society and catalogue all its aspects, and the hunger for revenge. Here, vengeance overwhelmed material self-interest as he laid waste to the reputations of an entire class of Parisian writers. In this way, Illusions perdues displays the same reckless, spiteful, self-destructive aggression later seen in Norman Podhoretz’s 1967 memoir Making It. Like Balzac, Podhoretz had the bad taste to reveal the dirty secrets of his contemporaries: in this case, the fact that American writers in the 1960s, despite their bohemian pretensions, pursued wealth and prestige as ruthlessly as the despised business classes, but were just more hypocritical about it. For his intellectual honesty and Brooklyn brashness, Podhoretz was ostracised by the New York literary elites and the reviews of Making It effectively ended his career as a fêted liberal intellectual, in the same way Balzac faced the injured pride and petulant rage of the Parisian critics for the rest of his life. But the attraction of Balzac’s and Podhoretz’s ugly books was that they ruthlessly stripped away hypocritical illusions by exposing the material relations and personal ambitions that underpin the world of writers and writing. To this end they functioned as valuable correctives to the colossal self-regard of the literary world. 

  1. Quoted in André Maurois, Prometheus: The Life of Balzac, trans. Norman Denny (Pelican, 1971), p.404
  2. Honoré de Balzac, Lost Illusions, trans. Herbert J. Hunt (Penguin, 1971), p.275
  3. Honoré de Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin, trans. Herbet J. Hunt (Penguin, 1977), pp.118-19
  4. Lost Illusions, pp.231-2
  5. Ibid., p.287
  6. Quoted in Graham Robb, Balzac (Picador, 1994), p.58
  7. Quoted in Robb, p.90
  8. Maurois, p.409
  9. Lost Illusions, p.409
  10. Maurois, p.336
  11. Lost Illusions, p.202
  12. Ibid., p.229
  13. Ibid., p.245
  14. Ibid., p.290
  15. Ibid., pp.317-18
  16. Ibid., p.346
  17. Ibid., p.348
  18. Ibid., p.240
  19. Ibid., p.277
  20. Ibid., p.242
  21. Ibid., p.250
  22. Ibid., p.440
  23. Quoted in Maurois, p.128
  24. Lost Illusions, pp.311-12
  25. Ibid., p.300
  26. See Sotirios Paraschas, ‘Illusions perdues: Writers, Artists and the Reflexive Novel’ in The Cambridge Companion to Balzac (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
  27. Maurois, p.305
  28. Quoted in Maurois, p.490
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1 Response to The Writing Racket: Balzac’s ‘Lost Illusions’

  1. cybore says:

    Great. Really enjoyed reading this.


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