Balzac on the threshold of asserting his genius with ‘Cromwell’ was particularly ugly, in spite of his intelligence that sparkled in his small eyes. A stout thick set figure, untidy black hair bony features a large mouth and defective teeth. His timidity and lean purse could not afford him the distraction the city of Paris offered. ‘A very ugly man ‘ is how one of his contemporaries described him. Balzac neglected his personal appearance and his acquaintances noted with distaste, the thick grease on his leonine mane, the decaying teeth the way he dribbled when he spoke quickly, his unshaven chin and untied shoelaces. Whereas the bucks of the age far below in intellect and determination could insinuate themselves with a woman with supple phrases and time tested tactics he was tongue tied and ashamed of his looks. Balzac knew that his massive shoulders and bull-like neck and short legs would only make him look ridiculous if he tried to imitate the dandies of his day. ’Oh to have the feeling that one is made for love and destined to make a woman happy and yet never to find a single one… to have to carry treasures about with one in a beggar’s knapsack and meet nobody..who wants to admire them! I was often in despair that I was near to putting an end to my life.’
By a phenomenal absorption in his work he managed to stave off the demands of the flesh.
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