By Harold Bloom
Bloom's sleek severe perspectives
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Extra resources for Honore De Balzac (Bloom's Modern Critical Views)
True, her establishment is luxurious, but it is as loveless as her mother’s; it is rich but tasteless, characterized by the kind of factitious elegance that can be purchased en bloc from a fashionable interior designer. The Bank, then, is vulgar and loveless, the Magistracy, or at least its female manifestation in Madame de Granville, puritanical and loveless, and the Nobility moderate, cultured, and affectionate. This ternary system of oppositions would seem complete and satisfactory as it is presented in the ﬁrst three chapters of the tale if it were not for three things: the hint that Madame de Vandenesse is not so happy as she ought to be, the fact that a whole segment of rich Parisian society is missing from it; and the fact that the ternary system is actually a quaternary system with one quadrant missing.
The successful interpreter, Mr. Longdon, an elderly gentleman and former admirer of Mrs. Brookenham’s mother, is at present marveling at the phenomenon of that lady’s daughter, a girl who, at the awkward unmarried age of eighteen, is by necessity emerging from the security of the nursery and schoolroom just as he is by choice emerging from the security of his country retreat. Mr. Longdon ﬁnds London’s new, breezy informality awkward at best, in comparison with the customs of an earlier age. ’” Nanda looked at him with all her honesty.
Possible stories, presentable ﬁgures, rise from the thick jungle as the observer moves, ﬂuttering up like startled game, and before he knows it indeed he has fairly to guard himself against the brush of importunate wings. (I, v) And in the preface to The Spoils of Poynton he explains at some length the relationship between the “germ” of his novels and stories and their necessarily untrammeled development in his imagination. Even more important, perhaps, we have the record of James’s characters’ encounters with the muddle, and of its more or less successful interpretation by the likes of Christopher Newman, Isabel Archer, Maisie Farange, Lambert Strether, and Maggie Verver.