Like an epic war novel in a pint-sized package
|Honoré de Balzac|
Farewell (French title: Adieu) is a novella by Honoré de Balzac, first published in 1830. It is a brief work penned in deceptively brisk prose which flows by quickly and effortlessly. Balzac is a master at quickly establishing scene and characters, thereby ensnaring the reader immediately in the world of his story. Once involved in the lives of these characters, the reader is swept along by a stream of revelations and surprises. Like many works written during this time period, the expressions of love may seem a little over the top for today’s audience, but the occasional sickly sweetness is tempered by the stark and gruesome descriptions of the Beresina battlefield. The relationship between Philippe and Stéphanie is really quite moving, and the war sequences offer plenty of exciting action. In addition, Balzac treats the subject of mental illness with thoughtfulness and dignity, and raises interesting philosophical questions about the limits of love, the fragility of the mind, and the resilience of the human spirit.
Farewell is part of Balzac’s magnum opus, the Comédie Humaine, but like all works under that heading it can be read as a stand-alone novel. I would recommend it to diehard fans of Balzac or to general enthusiasts of classic literature who are newcomers to this great author’s work. Though not one of his better known pieces, it is a pleasant surprise and deserves a higher degree of notoriety. The slight investment you’ll make in reading time is more than rewarded by a satisfying emotional richness that far surpasses the brevity of its page count.
If you liked this review, please follow the link below to Amazon.com and give me a “helpful” vote. Thank you.