chapter  11
12 Pages


WithRonnie Butler

Le Monde de Balzacsocial and political views stem from his conviction of the immutability of certain basic natural laws to which human beings, no less than animal species, are subject. The fixed place occupied by individuals in the social scale follows logically for Balzac from the divisions observed in nature. Balzac’s determination is characterised by a pre-Darwinian emphasis which, as the Catechisme Social makes clear, owes much to the influence of Hobbes. Balzac’s social pessimism leads him to question the value of individual behaviour in the Revolution. The occasional moral chidings are insignificant when compared with Balzac’s enthusiasm for the sense of elegance which graced the ancien regime cult of sensual pleasure. Any criticism which Balzac has to make of the ancien regime is based on purely moral grounds. Balzac’s vision of a modernised version of the ancien regime was as utopian as the revolutionary ideals which were the constant object of his ridicule.