The Vicar's Passion
This early Balzac novel, never before translated into English, was written under the pseudonym of Horace de Saint-Aubin. Balzac wrote several of his early works under pen names, but this work—with its controversial subjects of incest and rape—certainly seems to have justified Balzac's hidden identity.
The novel begins with a brilliant comedic scene in which the local bourgeoisie wonders about its new vicar, a dashingly handsome young man with a dark, brooding personality. Ultimately, they begin to uncover his "terrible" past, which includes a passionate love for his sister Mélanie (who turns out not to be his sibling) and a friendship with the local Marquise, who herself is attracted to the young man—until she discovers an even darker truth. At times comic, always adventurous and erotic, and brilliantly satiric, this is an important rediscovered work in the career of one of the greatest authors of world literature.