Honoré de Balzac
(5153) Balzac, Honoré de (1799-1850). “Liubov’ pod maskoï” (A Masked Love).
Original typescript, 1st copy. 70 pages.
A hithertofore unpublished novel by Balzac for which the first Russian edition appeared in 1911, the same year as the French edition.
As much as Balzac was published throughout the entirety of the soviet period the reasons that would bring the powers to forbid the publication to several publishers of this novella are, as yet, unknown. As with all censored texts, and especially as it concerned a popularly appreciated author “Liubov” would be circulated by samizdat. Never republished the novella in the form of samizdat would be a central focus for speculative investment for those involved in samizdat during the years 1955-60.
+ in the same volume:
Bolshakova, V.S. “Feia” (“A Fairy”), Novel in Six Parts.
Original typescript, 1st copy. 227pages.
A text which has proven unfindable at the National Library of Russia and in every other institution worldwide.
It is not out of the question that the author’s name is, in actual fact, a pseudonym, but our attempt to prove this conclusion were futile. For obvious reasons it is extremely rare to find typewritten samizdat copies from editions that were disappeared from the libraries. It is, from the very appearance of this text in a samizdat, in any case certain that this would have known some notion of success at its time of publication; it could not be argued that someone made the effort of typing over two hundred pages under the sort of clandestine conditions the activity of samizdat necessitated for anything else. As the sound of the typewriter could arouse the suspicions of neighbours who could very well be spying on the other residents and there was little reason to undertake the risk involved in samizdat if there was no certainty of financial reward through either the sale or renting of the copy.
In the case to this samizdat it’s also interesting to not that it is bound in the same binding as the censored Balzac.
The novels plot is based in Moscow, probably at the end of the 19th century in an haute couture sewing workshop belonging to Madame Rostovtseva, a wealthy society lady, where she has about twenty seamstresses working for her. Among the seamstresses is the very beautiful Stanislava, a young country girl who came from her province to perfect her art as Moscow gets every latest Paris fashions and designs. After her training she intends to return to her village to marry her fiancée.
Rostovtseva’s husband, who had married her for her beauty has all the character traits of a Don Juan who pursues his extramarital adventures without any thought of his wife and their son. When, inevitably, he crosses paths with the young Stanislava and falls under her charms he dedicates all of his efforts to conquer her. This desire leads to rape and the birth of a little girl.
Little time after the birth Stanislava loses her sanity and her child is placed with a wet nurse by Rostovtseva. Stanislava ends up in a psychiatric hospital.