chapter  2
21 Pages

The Emigrés

WithRonnie Butler

Le Monde de Balzac analysis concentrates on the effort made by the émigrés to regain the preponderant position in French society from which they had been ousted by the confiscation and sale of their property. Greer found that the majority of emigres were from the Third Estate, compared with only 25 per cent from the clergy and 17 per cent from the nobility, the remaining seven per cent being classed as unidentifiable. In describing his aristocratic émigrés, Balzac gives a similarly distorted picture. In leaving France for the most part before the end of 1792, Balzac’s exclusively noble émigrés support Greer’s conclusion that the aristocratic emigration was essentially completed before 1793. Emigre relatives are frequently mentioned in the Comedie humaine in connection with the legislation affecting émigré property. Balzac returns to the question of forest-land in discussing the émigré revival under the Consulate and Empire.