Honoré de Balzac Short Stories

Although known primarily for his masterwork The Human Comedya series of linked novels, Balzac also wrote some shorter pieces. Some self-contained narratives from his novels have also been excerpted as short stories.

“Facino Cane”

While attending a wedding, the narrator meets Facino Cane, an elderly and blind clarinet player. Intrigued by the man’s look and unusual play, the narrator talks to him. Cane tells the story of his famous lineage and his losses.

This story can be read in the preview of The Human Comedy: Selected Stories(38% in)

“A Passion in the Desert”

A captured French soldier escapes but gets stranded in the desert. He soon encounters a panther.

This story can be read in the preview of Great Short Stories of the Masters(31% in)

“La Grande Bretèche”

La Grande Bretêche is an abandoned manor house. Dr. Bianchon is curious about the house, and finds out its history. The deceased owner, Madame de Merret, made arrangements with a lawyer that the house be undisturbed for fifty years. She had a Spanish lover who would visit when her husband was away.

This story can be read in the preview of Stories of Terror and the Supernatural(7% in)

“The Atheist’s Mass”

Desplein was a lauded physician, brilliant, and a staunch atheist. Despite this, his protégé, Bianchon, saw Desplein attending mass. Bianchon relates Desplein’s story to explain this discrepancy.

“Pierre Grassou”

Pierre is a hack painter who’s looked down on by other artists. He produces imitations of the works of some masters for a dealer, Magus, who sells them to unsophisticated buyers. Magus introduces Pierre to a man named Vervelle, who’s interested in art and has a marriageable daughter.

“The Mysterious Mansion”

A man’s landlady tells him part of the story of an old dilapidated house involving a Spanish prisoner of war. It’s unclear what became of him so the man tries to get the rest of the details from the housekeeper.

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