Peter Brooks and Linda Asher will be at Labyrinth Books having a conversation about a new collection Mr. Brooks has edited, Balzac: The Human Comedy — Selected Stories (New York Review of Books $17.95) on Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. The book consists of new work by various translators, including Ms. Asher.
The Boston Globe praised the “enormous range and more” Mr. Brooks covers “by plucking a mere nine of the Frenchman’s best tales,” while Publishers Weekly called the book “a healthy introduction to Balzac’s famous hyperbole, his melodrama, and his extended descriptions and explanations where nothing goes unsaid. We don’t read Balzac for his refined style; rather, his genius lies in the sheer ambition of his reach, the vastness of his grasp.”
Balzac’s notices over the years are worth repeating. Friedrich Engels: “I have learned more [from Balzac] than from all the professional historians, economists, and statisticians put together.”
Henry James: “Large as Balzac is, he is all of one piece and he hangs together perfectly.”
André Maurois: “Balzac was by turns a saint, a criminal, an honest judge, a corrupt judge, a minister, a fob, a harlot, a duchess, and always a genius.”
Peter Brooks is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar in the University Center for Human Values and the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He has published on narrative and narrative theory, on the 19th and 20th century novel, mainly French and English, and, more recently, on the interrelations of law and literature. He is the author of many books, including Enigmas of Identity, Henry James Goes to Paris; Realist Vision; Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature; Psychoanalysis and Storytelling; Reading for the Plot and also two novels. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, New York Review of Books, The New Republic, Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Yale Law Journal, Boston University Law Review, and elsewhere. Linda Asher has translated works by Milan Kundera, Georges Simenon, Victor Hugo, Jean-Pierre Vernant, Restif de la Bretonne, and many others. A former fiction editor at The New Yorker, she has won numerous major translation prizes and is a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic.