October 16, 2011

A Famous Back Door

Photo by Lee Hubert
Hidden away in the 16th arrondissement near the end of the rue Raynouard, there is a charming house with faded green shutters in the middle of a garden.  This perfect Passy hideaway was where the prolific writer Honoré Balzac took refuge for seven years (under a pseudonym).  In spite of his constant writing, he was always in debt. In this house he could sequester himself away from the hustle and bustle of central Paris … and escape his creditors through a back exit into the provincial rue Berton! 

Author of realist and psychological novels in the first half of the 19th century, he is especially known for his archetype characters like Rastignac, Father Goriot and Vautrin.  In Passy, he corrected and finished The Human Comedy, his attempt to describe the habits and morals of every level of society. 

He described his work day in a letter to the Countess Hanska: “Working means getting up at midnight every evening, writing until eight o’clock, having lunch in a quarter of an hour, working to five o’clock, having dinner, going to bed, and starting over again the next day.”   And all the while he drank pots and pots of coffee which contributed to his early death at just 51.

Balzac Reflections:

"The more one judges, the less one loves."

"Reading brings us unknown friends."

"Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you solitude is fine."

If you're interested in seeing this house and other interesting places in the 16th, join Lee Hubert on Tuesday, October 18th at 10:30 for her Paris by Arrondissement walk. For more information click here.