1 JANUARY 1898, Page 32

Balzac's "Comedic Humaine" : a Daughter of Eve, and Letters

of Two Brides. Translated by R. S. Scott. (J. M. Dent and. Co.)—It is as difficult to translate Balzac as to engrave a minature. His language is so special and so characteristic, that an English rendering is almost inevitably a little involved, and, as it were, knotty in language. It would be impossible to deny that there are traces of this fault in the first story in the book before us. In the second, however, the "Letters of Two Brides," this tendency is entirely overcome. The language flows as easily, and the impression conveyed is as vivid, as if "our pleasant English tongue" were the natural interpretation of the thoughts given us. For here, of course, is the initial difficulty of translation. The thought which was thought in French must be rendered in English. Now, the language of a nation is moulded by the thoughts of the people. The Englishman, therefore, has the wrong tools with which to express to his readers the thought which the French author rendered so easily in the tongue which French thought has given us. The translator of the "Letters of Two Brides" has overcome this obstacle with wonderful success ; and people to whom reading in French is not easy will in this story be able to enjoy almost as much as in the original this portion of the incom- parable "human comedy" of Balzac.