Le Médecin de campagne

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The Battle of Dresden, one of the tales told by Goguelat

Le Médecin de campagne (The Country Doctor) is an 1833 novel by Honoré de Balzac. The second in his Scène de la vie de campagne series, it addresses the author's own preoccupation with social organisation, political power and religion, though the reader has to avoid confusing Balzac's political principles with the convictions of Dr Benassis on which critics have often given contrary opinions. Some see the book as giving a sort of 20th century-type liberalism,[1] while others see the premises of socialist thinking or fourierist tendencies. The book's romantic dimension has to be taken into account, despite quite a thin plot, connecting it with the world of Rousseau with an elogy on nature, peace and poetry. None of its characters appear elsewhere in La Comédie humaine.

The heart of its third part is made up of tales told during a vigil in a barn by Guoguelat, a former soldier in the armies of Napoleon. This section uses material Balzac had gathered for a planned work entitled Les Batailles napoléoniennes, which he began but never finished.


In 1829, commander Genestas arrives in a village in the Dauphiné, where he meets Dr Benassis, who has transformed this miserable settlement into a small but prosperous town in only ten years. The two men each have a secret which is only revealed at the end of the book.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ André Wurmser, La comédie inhumaine