The Lily of the Valley

Author: Honore de Balzac


To Monsieur J. B. Nacquart,
Member of the Royal Academy of Medicine.

Dear Doctor—Here is one of the most carefully hewn stones in the
second course of the foundation of a literary edifice which I have
slowly and laboriously constructed. I wish to inscribe your name
upon it, as much to thank the man whose science once saved me as
to honor the friend of my daily life.

De Balzac.


Felix de Vandenesse to Madame la Comtesse Natalie de Manerville:

I yield to your wishes. It is the privilege of the women whom we
love more than they love us to make the men who love them ignore
the ordinary rules of common-sense. To smooth the frown upon their
brow, to soften the pout upon their lips, what obstacles we
miraculously overcome! We shed our blood, we risk our future!

You exact the history of my past life; here it is. But remember
this, Natalie; in obeying you I crush under foot a reluctance
hitherto unconquerable. Why are you jealous of the sudden reveries
which overtake me in the midst of our happiness? Why show the
pretty anger of a petted woman when silence grasps me? Could you
not play upon the contradictions of my character without inquiring
into the causes of them? Are there secrets in your heart which
seek absolution through a knowledge of mine? Ah! Natalie, you have
guessed mine; and it is better you should know the whole truth.
Yes, my life is shadowed by a phantom; a word evokes it; it hovers
vaguely above me and about me; within my soul are solemn memories,
buried in its depths like those marine productions seen in calmest
weather and which the storms of ocean cast in fragments on the

The mental labor which the expression of ideas necessitates has
revived the old, old feelings which give me so much pain when they
come suddenly; and if in this confession of my past they break
forth in a way that wounds you, remember that you threatened to
punish me if I did not obey your wishes, and do not, therefore,
punish my obedience. I would that this, my confidence, might
increase your love.

Until we meet,



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Chicago: Honore de Balzac, "Dedication," The Lily of the Valley, trans. Wormeley, Katharine Prescott, 1830-1908 in The Lily of the Valley Original Sources, accessed June 17, 2024,

MLA: de Balzac, Honore. "Dedication." The Lily of the Valley, translted by Wormeley, Katharine Prescott, 1830-1908, in The Lily of the Valley, Original Sources. 17 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: de Balzac, H, 'Dedication' in The Lily of the Valley, trans. . cited in , The Lily of the Valley. Original Sources, retrieved 17 June 2024, from