Friday, 14 September 2012

Honore de Balzac «A Woman of Thirty" and Simone de Beauvoir "The Woman Destroyed"



Are you familiar with the term "Balzac-woman" or “Balzac-aged woman? What kind of a woman does it mean? What is the origin of the term? After all, women described by Balzac lived more than one and a half century ago. Who is a modern Balzac-woman?

W
e owe the advent of the term "Balzac-woman" to the great French writer, Honore de Balzac who wrote a novel called "A Woman of Thirty.” Realities of that time said that any woman who was over thirty, thirty-odd years, lost its feminine appeal and relevance in the eyes of society. But Balzac "allowed" a thirty year old woman to fall in love for the first time, and more importantly, to be loved.

Balzac allowed a woman to hope. Golden autumn, bright, warm Indian summer, but the passion is still quite possible, and love, and happiness.
Had Balzac worked now, in the twenty-first century, he would have called his work "A Woman of Fifty or Sixty." See the difference?

And what was the "Balzac age" in-between, in the twentieth century? Another French novelist, Simone de Beauvoir with her book "The Woman Destroyed" answers that question. [By the way, without her, this blog would not be complete; she was the one who wrote “The second sex”. She has an interesting biography, but we'll talk about it later.]

Both "A Woman
of Thirty" and "The Woman Destroyed" talk about different women’s fates, the question of age is slightly present like a dotted line. In “The woman destroyed" Monique, a woman, whose marriage is falling apart, states the “Balzac age”, which is forty-four. At that age she remains alone - no profession, no other interest other than her husband. Simone de Beauvoir described masterfully how the truth breaks through the thick cocoon in which Monique was enveloped. Her love for her husband and her two daughters was too devoted and too oppressive. The true picture that she sees after her shell is broken makes her recapitulate all her life. It can be felt that the book was written in the second half of the twentieth century. Monique is forty-four, and it seems there is little hope left in life. 

Nowadays women give birth at the age of forty four and learn new professions. I wonder what will happen in half a century, given the pace of the medicine's development? The “Balzac age” will be seventy? I would rather accept the assumption that our souls are eternal and that the “Balzac age” does not exist at all. In fact, do women need to be sex appealing as long as possible, what other options do they have?

More interesting things about women characters, beauty and style in my blog Notes about styling

1 comment:

  1. I really like novels by Honore de Balzac. The post is very nice and deep. I noticed you have made a thorough analysis of "A Woman of Thirty". Thanks a lot!

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