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The Girl With The Golden Eyes by Honore De Balzac Trans By Ellen Marriage


  The Girl with the Golden Eyes is the third part of a trilogy. Part
  one is entitled Ferragus and part two is The Duchesse de Langeais.
  The three stories are frequently combined under the title The


                    To Eugene Delacroix, Painter.

                   THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN EYES

One of those sights in which most horror is to be encountered is,
surely, the general aspect of the Parisian populace--a people fearful
to behold, gaunt, yellow, tawny. Is not Paris a vast field in
perpetual turmoil from a storm of interests beneath which are whirled
along a crop of human beings, who are, more often than not, reaped by
death, only to be born again as pinched as ever, men whose twisted and
contorted faces give out at every pore the instinct, the desire, the
poisons with which their brains are pregnant; not faces so much as
masks; masks of weakness, masks of strength, masks of misery, masks of
joy, masks of hypocrisy; all alike worn and stamped with the indelible
signs of a panting cupidity? What is it they want? Gold or pleasure? A
few observations upon the soul of Paris may explain the causes of its
cadaverous physiognomy, which has but two ages--youth and decay:
youth, wan and colorless; decay, painted to seem young. In looking at
this excavated people, foreigners, who are not prone to reflection,
experience at first a movement of disgust towards the capital, that
vast workshop of delights, from which, in a short time, they cannot
even extricate themselves, and where they stay willingly to be
corrupted. A few words will suffice to justify physiologically the
almost infernal hue of Parisian faces, for it is not in mere sport
that Paris has been called a hell. Take the phrase for truth. There
all is smoke and fire, everything gleams, crackles, flames,
evaporates, dies out, then lights up again, with shooting sparks, and
is consumed. In no other country has life ever been more ardent or
acute. The social nature, even in fusion, seems to say after each
completed work: "Pass on to another!" just as Nature says herself.
Like Nature herself, this social nature is busied with insects and
flowers of a day--ephemeral trifles; and so, too, it throws up fire
and flame from its eternal crater. Perhaps, before analyzing the
causes which lend a special physiognomy to each tribe of this
intelligent and mobile nation, the general cause should be pointed out
which bleaches and discolors, tints with blue or brown individuals in
more or less degree.

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 Additional Info
 No. 404
 Posted on 9 June, 2006
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