Saturday, 19 May 2018

Seraphita by Honore de Balzac + Free Book

Seraphita by Honoré de Balzac
First published in French in the Revue De Paris in France in 1834. English language translation by Katharine Prescott Wormeley.

How I got this book:
Downloaded the eBook from ForgottenBooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £7.99 (PB)
Wordery : from £4.35 (PB)
Waterstones : from £5.90 (PB)
Amazon : from $Free / £Free (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

The ForgottenBooks edition of this classic begins with a lengthy introduction which discusses and explains the religious significance of Seraphita at great length. This was so in depth and dull that I nearly didn't get through its eighty-odd pages in order to start the novel itself!

Seraphita is set in Norway and Balzac does a fantastic job of describing the country, its landscape, seasons and the people of the isolated rural village where his story is set. I loved reading these passages which actually advanced the story and would love to someday visit a similar remote fjord as it was so romantically presented. However, two long sections of the book are simply Seraphita expounding (over many pages of monologue) various religious doctrines and dogmas and I found these bits incredibly difficult to understand and to remain focused on. The beliefs range across Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism amongst others, and also include mentions the beliefs of races of people on other planets such as Mars and Venus. It is all probably fabulously imagined but felt like sitting through a long harangue. Perhaps it would all make more sense to someone of the time as much of the science has now advanced far beyond that denounced by Seraphita as her proofs.

All in all, this is an odd book for me to have read and it is pretty much two books mashed together - one a lovely story and one a intensely detailed lesson!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Honore De Balzac / Contemporary fiction / Books from France


  1. But what's a 19th Century French novel without going off on one randomly for a bit? ;)