Famous quotes explained: « Chance is the greatest novelist in the world; to be fruitful, one only has to study it », La Comédie humaine, Balzac, 1842.


Famous quotes explained: « Chance is the greatest novelist in the world; to be fruitful, one only has to study it », La Comédie humaine, Balzac, 1842.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was a prominent French writer of the 19th century, widely recognized for his contribution to realistic literature. In 1842, during the reissue of his already produced works, he clarified his project, that of « La Comédie Humaine »,  in reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

It is in the preface that Balzac expresses his artistic vision and literary philosophy. He asserts that the writer’s role is to depict society as it is, to expose its vices and virtues, and to account for human diversity. He wanted to create a « social natural history » by using fiction to examine the complexities of the society of his time. This colossal project, which includes dozens of novels by the author, was not completed at his death.

The quote Chance is the greatest novelist in the world; to be fruitful, one only has to study it thus encapsulates Balzac’s literary approach. He suggests that chance, or coincidences and fortuitous circumstances, is an essential element of life and, therefore, must be studied carefully by writers to enrich their narratives. The quote also reflects Balzac’s source of inspiration, life itself, largely composed of chance, according to the author.

Balzac acknowledges that real life is full of randomness, unforeseen events that influence individuals’ trajectories. For him, this should not be avoided in fiction but, on the contrary, should be embraced to make stories more authentic and engaging. Balzac implies that the study of chance can make a writer more productive and creative. Understanding how chance shapes the lives and destinies of characters can enrich plots and make them more believable.

By embracing chance, Balzac sought to make his fiction closer to reality. He believed that coincidences and unexpected turns in life were an integral part of the human experience, and including them in his works allowed for a better representation of life’s complexity.

This quote underscores the importance of careful observation of reality and chance in the creative process of a writer, in line with Balzac’s realistic vision. It encourages writers to look beyond predictable patterns and explore the richness of human experiences to create works that reflect the truth and diversity of the world around them.

Chance is the greatest novelist in the world; to be fruitful, one only has to study it

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