Balzac, Honore de, born at Tours in 1799, began life in a notary's office, but, following the bent of his genius, soon took to writing, under the name of Horace de St. Aubin. His early stories met with scant appreciation. In 1830 he attracted popular attention by his Physiologie du Mariage; Les Derniers Chouans and La Peau de Chagrin confirmed this success, and for the next twenty years he laboured with ardent though fitful industry as a novelist, producing eighty-five works, and establishing a reputation which still remains unrivalled. His careless and extravagant habits rendered his life miserable, in spite of the large sums that he earned; but not long before his premature death, in 1850, he married Mme. Hanska, a wealthy Polish lady, whose fortune relieved him from painful embarrassments. Balzac's merits as a novelist have provoked keen discussion, but the commanding nature of his genius is more and more appreciated as years go on. To say that he founded the French realistic school is small praise. Whilst possessing the faculty for describing the facts of Parisian life with laborious minuteness, he was an artist of creative gifts, and his sympathies extended into the spiritual and visionary world; whilst he fully appreciated the softer and more domestic influences of the country without being blind to the darker phases of rural society. It would be difficult to imagine books separated by a wider gulf than that which lies between Le Pere Goriot and Le Medecin de Campagne, Les Parents Pauvres and Louis Lambert, La Maison Nucigen- and Eugenie Grandet. It must be admitted, however, that he dwells rather more forcibly on human vice than human virtue, for he lived in the corrupt France of the Restoration. His personal character was simple and amiable. Though extravagant, he indulged but little in the pleasures of life, working with remarkable pertinacity for weeks together, and often re-writing his manuscript from beginning to end. Yet in spite of this industry his style is peculiar and frequently obscure.