The Elixir of Life - Honore de Balzac - Страница 1 из 35


THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
By Honore De Balzac
Translated By Clara Bell and James Waring
TO THE READER
At the very outset of the writer's literary career, a friend, long since
dead, gave him the subject of this Study. Later on he found the same
story in a collection published about the beginning of the present
century. To the best of his belief, it is some stray fancy of the brain
of Hoffmann of Berlin; probably it appeared in some German almanac,
and was omitted in the published editions of his collected works. The
_Comedie Humaine_ is sufficiently rich in original creations for the
author to own to this innocent piece of plagiarism; when, like the
worthy La Fontaine, he has told unwittingly, and after his own fashion,
a tale already related by another. This is not one of the hoaxes in
vogue in the year 1830, when every author wrote his "tale of horror"
for the amusement of young ladies. When you have read the account of
Don Juan's decorous parricide, try to picture to yourself the part which
would be played under very similar circumstances by honest folk who, in
this nineteenth century, will take a man's money and undertake to pay
him a life annuity on the faith of a chill, or let a house to an ancient
lady for the term of her natural life! Would they be for resuscitating
their clients? I should dearly like a connoisseur in consciences to
consider how far there is a resemblance between a Don Juan and fathers
who marry their children to great expectations. Does humanity, which,


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