For Love or for Money

Balzac’s Rhetorical Realism

Armine Kotin Mortimer


Literature and Criticism/French
333 pp. 6x9

$52.95 cloth 978-0-8142-1169-4
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Table of Contents

Explore More
The author recommends the following links:

Balzac’s Paris: A Guided Tour

Les périodes décrites par Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac et la Comédie Humaine

Balzac, Rodin Museum

Victor Hugo’s Eulogy for Balzac


“Armine Kotin Mortimer is widely regarded as an expert on Balzac. In her masterful book she presents interesting readings that were developed over her career as a well-known research scholar. For Love or for Money is a rich study, well-written, intelligent, and sophisticated, which may well serve as the reference text for a number of Balzac’s lesser-known works.” —Dorothy Kelly, professor of modern foreign languages and literatures, Boston University

“It is not an overstatement to say that Armine Kotin Mortimer is one of the truly outstanding Balzacians in the world. For Love or for Money is the best book on Balzac that has appeared in years.” —Allan H. Pasco, Hall Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature, University of Kansas

Everyone agrees that Balzac is a realistic writer, but what do we actually mean when we say that? This book examines the richness and variety of Balzac’s approaches to realism, employing several different interpretive methods. Taking love and money as the “Prime Movers” of the world of La Comédie humaine, twenty-one chapters provide detailed analyses of the many strategies by which the writing forges the powerful impression of reality, the construction we famously think of as Balzacian realism. Each chapter sets the methods and aims of its analysis, with particular attention to the language that conveys the sense of reality. Plots, devices, or interpretive systems (including genealogies) function as images or reflections of how the novels make their meanings. The analyses converge on the central point: how did Balzac invent realism? No less than this fundamental question lies behind the interpretations this book provides, a question to which the conclusion provides a full answer.

A major book in English devoted entirely to Balzac was overdue. Here is the American voice of Balzac studies, an engaging, insightful, and revealing excursion among the masterworks of one of the most important authors of all time.

Armine Kotin Mortimer is professor emeritus in the Department of French at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.