The issue of 'desire' is one that is of deep interest to both Balzac and Cao Xueqin. The purpose of the article is to show that the focus and development of these two authors on the issue of desire present astonishing similarities and a common aim to show that there is no final solution. Instead, there is a similar approach that impacts the entire life of their heroes and can be considered as the cursed part of the human condition. Recognition of desire as the chimera that it is and renouncing the pursuit of its satisfaction could be one solution. Yet is not desire what constitutes being human? Renouncing it could turn out to be as chimerical as the original problem, the hope for its fulfillment.