Tuesday, February 11, 2014

S3: The Human Comedy

A few weeks ago there was a party at The Monkey’s Paw to celebrate the book-a-week project and the Biblio-Mat. Fighting every desire to drop a pocketful of toonies into the Biblio-Mat, I waited near the end of the night to get try my luck with the machine for the first time in 2014. Watching people walk away with everything from young adult fiction to Proterozoic studies, I was unsure what temperament the Biblio-Mat was in but ultimately ended up with what was possibly the most amazing book of the night:

Book: The Human Comedy

Screams antiquity.

Published in 1893, this copy of Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy, published by Peter Fenelon Collier, ranks way up there with The Leisure Hour and The Pathology of Princes in terms of sheer wonder at how it made it into the Biblio-Mat as even though it’s just volume one of three, it’s a gorgeous book that contained a wide selection of his short stories in their entirety.

A tad bit of sun-fading.
Gorgeous cover.

He really doesn't look like a happy man.

The spine was a bit faded but the cover survived the last hundred and twenty-one years extremely well. The gilded lettering kept its brilliance on the embossed black cloth cover with just a few nicks here and there. The 464 interior pages also held up nicely, however, there are only a handful of illustrations inside.
One of the oldest books I've received from the machine.

Half hoping for a cat meme.

"Life is a comedy to those who think; a tragedy to those who feel."

I’ve never studied or read Balzac, being more focused on English Lit, but he being one of authors who kicked off the realism movement, I knew a bit about his works and his immense influence on modern literature, which adds to the amazement that this was in the machine. I didn’t have any intentions to read a Biblio-Mat book cover to cover again this year but with a century-old translated copy of La Comédie humaine at my fingertips, more than a few nights are going be spent delving into French society in the 1800’s.

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