Skip to main content
  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. Books

The Short List: A Passion in the Desert, Honoré de Balzac

short story


The Short List is a collection of reviews and critical responses to short fiction. All titles reviewed are suggested for a quick, quality read. Looking for quick but fulfilling reads? Start your search here.

A Passion in the Desert, Honoré de Balzac

One of the most prolific of novelists, Honoré de Balzac was born in Tours, France in 1799. His writing pursued a panorama of then-modern French society, and he is credited with transforming fiction into a comprehensive literary form through realism and precise documentation.

In A Passion in the Desert, Balzac dramatizes the mystery of man’s inner self; we begin with a Frenchman, taken captive as a prisoner of war, whose only thought is escape. As we follow his trek through the deserts of Egypt, we are simultaneously trudging the windswept sands of the mind. Hope fades quickly away, and the cavalcade of emotional states reaches each end of the human spectrum. Balzac moves us gracefully through the devastation of a defeated man, and the Frenchman’s newly formed friendship strives to illuminate the deeper functions of the human psyche.

Aptly titled, Balzac’s Passion is a love story of sorts, finding its strength in brevity and the author’s refined form. An intellectually stimulating read, and a classic.

Find it here.

Have you read this? Can you explain Balzac's description of the desert as "God without mankind"? What do you think the purpose of this story is?



Arts & Entertainment

  • Jack White
    Watch as Jack White covers Jay Z at the Forecastle Music Festival
  • Jay Z and Beyonce
    See how the rumors about Jay Z and Beyoncé splitting up came about
    Celebrity Buzz
  • Comic-Con
    San Diego Comic-Con 2014 exclusives: Entertainment Earth
    20 Photos
  • Paul McCartney
    Take an exclusive look at Paul McCartney's soundcheck before a recent show
    20 Photos
  • Katy Perry
    Watch Katy Perry transform from pop princess to one of the world's hottest women
    19 Photos
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman
    Find out why Philip Seymour Hoffman left his children out of his will
    Today's Buzz