Henry James, date unknown. (Library of Congress)

Author Rating: A

In 1884 the American author Henry James published A Little Tour In France.

It’s wonderful for the descriptions of everyday life in 19th century France, but also for James’ humor.

In this section James is discussing the birthplace of Honore de Balzac:

Honoré de Balzac on an 1842 daguerreotype by Louis-Auguste Bisson (Wikpedia)

Balzac, in the maturity of his vision, took in more of human life than any one, since Shakspeare, who has attempted to tell us stories about it; and the very small scene on which his consciousness dawned is one end of the immense scale that he traversed. I confess it shocked me a little to find that he was born in a house “in a row”—a house, moreover, which at the date of his birth must have been only about twenty years old. All that is contradictory. If the tenement selected for this honour could not be ancient and embrowned, it should at least have been detached.

(Cross posted at From Laurel Street)