The path to the Rue Reynoire, where the greatest writer of the XIX century Honore de Balzac (1840-1847) lived in a modest mansion, is a ten-minute walk from the Passy metro station.
In honor of the author of the world’s masterpiece, the book “The Human Comedy”, the French have preserved the site of the former suburb in the state of the XIX century. The administration of Paris in 1949 bought the house to create the Museum of Balzac (Maison de Balzac).
The plan of the museum.
The panorama of the museum is hidden by a hilly area. Initially, it appears to the traveler in the form of a small wing, although the museum complex occupies a vast territory. It includes a three-story mansion, a courtyard garden and adjacent buildings. The first floor of the building has been occupied since 1971 by a library with a repository of Balzac’s manuscripts and publications.
Here are selected books and periodicals of that era with the writer’s notes. The upper floor is occupied by an exhibition about the life and work of Balzac. Separate rooms are dedicated to the writer’s beloved Evelina Ganskaya and the work of Auguste Rodin on the monument to Balzac. Paintings by famous French masters help to understand the situation of the XIX century. Not far from the museum complex there is a coffee shop where the writer bought different types of coffee to make his own recipe for the drink.
An exhibition about the life and work of Balzac.
In 1840, the mansion was rented by Monsieur de Bregnol. Under this pseudonym, the already famous writer Balzac was hiding. Such a precaution was necessary, because the writer’s attempt to engage in publishing activities ended in large debts, he lost his property, and was forced to hide from creditors. The writer was satisfied with the presence of a secret door through which he could disappear from uninvited guests. Friends entered through the front door, saying the password.
The modest atmosphere of the house encouraged creativity. The writer’s working day began at midnight. He worked very hard on the text, changing the content of each page several times. The book “The Human Comedy” was completed in the mansion, and many famous novels were written.
The museum staff tried to convey to the visitors the inner world of the writer. They managed to keep the original items: a chair, a desk, a favorite coffee pot, a teapot, and a walking stick. The storefronts show drafts of pages with strikethrough lines and added text. Unfortunately, many of the writer’s belongings are lost. They were sold off after the death of Balzac’s widow.
Evelina Ganskaya Hall.
A whole room is dedicated to the history of the relationship between Evelina of Ghana and Honore de Balzac. They can be presented and understood through many years of correspondence.
From the first meeting in 1932 to the wedding in 1850, it took a long 18 years.
Balzac left the mansion for fleeting meetings with his beloved, but more often he conveyed his feelings through letters.
After the wedding, the family settled in Paris. The happiness didn’t last long. After 5 months, the writer died.
The hall dedicated to the creation of the monument to Balzac.
The history of the creation of the monument to Balzac by the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin is interesting. The work was commissioned by the French Society of Writers. Rodin wanted to convey the inner world of the genius in sculpture. In search of material, he goes to the birthplace of Balzac — the city of Tours, rereads his works, gets acquainted with the reviews of his contemporaries. In 1898, the sculptor exhibited a statue of Balzac in the art salon.
The customer refused to accept the work. Rodin was not supported by his contemporaries, who saw in the sculpture an ironic image, unworthy of the writer’s memory. Rodin rejected offers to sell the monument to other countries — he dreamed of seeing it in Paris. In 1939, France installed the creation of Rodin on one of the so-called squares.
Museum activities.
The house-museum unites lovers of Balzac’s art from all over the world.The museum has several organizations: the “Balzac Research Group” and the “Society of Friends of Balzac”. They are engaged in popularizing the works of the writer, explain to modern readers the idea of the book “Human Comedy”.
The library hosts lectures, seminars, clubs for adults and children, concerts and performances. The museum organizes trips to the places of Balzac’s life and work.
The house-museum adequately presents the atmosphere of the XIX century — the time of the life of the world’s greatest writer.