Droll Tales 30

By returning to the “Beautiful Imperia” whose tale introduces these stories, Honoré de Balzac has travelled full circle in the last, “The Married Life of Fair Imperia”, which tracks our heroine’s transformation from haughty beauty making the most from her charms, certainly not freely given, yet widely distributed among the rich, into a faithful wife in love for the very first time.

From continuous festivities she turns to staunch constancy with her equally devoted, much younger, husband who she does not wish to see her grow old, despite his conviction that, as Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Mark Antony’s friend Enobarbus, “age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety”.

I will say no more for fear of spoiling the author’s swansong.

Mervyn Peake has produced one drawing for the Folio Society edition;

and Gustave Doré provides his own veritable swansong for The Bibliophilist Society.

Further details of the publications are given in https://derrickjknight.com/2023/01/06/droll-tales-1/except that there are no pictures here by Jean de Bosschère as I do not have any of the third Decade by him.


  1. Those faces! The clothing! The scenes! Gustave Doré’s illustrations are always fabulous and convey what is going on in the story…the story plot and the emotions.

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