From Artist to Genius, the Writing Style Differences and Similiraties between Balzac and Zola

Project Details


The objective of this project is to extend the research made under the Ministry of Science andTechnology in 2016, (Understanding “The Human Comedy” through Baudelaire eyes – The heroismof Modern Life). We want to discuss the different ways Balzac had to “draw his heroes”, and try tocompare it with Zola’s writing. We want to see how these two writers from the nineteenth century,prolific and self-confident in their skill, incorporated their own personal views in the "realism"direction, forming two distinct “realist” streams.Our corpus will include two novels: Balzac's Le Chef d’Oeuvre inconnu and Zola's l’Oeuvre.Under the influence of Balzac and his long work on artist madness, Zola, who likes to emphasize onthe ‘science’ and on the ‘natural law’, creates surprisingly a novel with the same thematic. Theprotagonists of these two works are ‘mad painters’. The two novels are constructed around theproblems encountered by two young painters in their journey of the masterpiece as well as the s thereactions of their entourage. The problematic also covers the genies that are so dedicated to theirlifetime work that self-destruction (suicide) is their only option.However, under the influence of different social backgrounds (post-revolutionary period,Second Empire) and different literary theories (realism and naturalism), the two novelists presenttheir works with different approach. The architecture of the two stories differs slightly. Each ofthem got their own logic, showing two completely different writing proficiencies.
Effective start/end date1/08/1731/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Balzac
  • Zola
  • Le chef d’oeuvre inonnu
  • l’Oeuvre
  • artist
  • madness
  • genius
  • suicide


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