chapter  7
7 Pages

The July Revolution

WithRonnie Butler

Le Monde de Balzac is only incidentally concerned with either the causes or the details of the Revolution. The central notion in Balzac’s indictment of the Revolution, that the cult of materialism was inseparable from the revolutionary conquests of the bourgeoisie, is already clearly stated in Balzac’s writing before the Comedie humaine. Balzac thereby confirmed his fundamental hostility to the Revolution, which the July Revolution intensified and enabled him to articulate more clearly and more systematically. In La Peau de chagrin, Balzac’s attack on the July Revolution is made in two ways, via a discussion at a dinner party given by Taillefer and in the form of a tirade delivered by Blondet. Revolutionary principles are again ridiculed, but what is more interesting is Balzac’s interpretation of the effects of the economic changes introduced by the Revolution. The liberal, democratic ideals of the Revolution, Balzac never tired of insisting were unattainable and could lead only to disillusionment or corruption.