Talk:Honoré de Balzac

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Featured article Honoré de Balzac is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on November 17, 2007.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
August 25, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
September 3, 2007 WikiProject peer review Reviewed
September 19, 2007 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article

François Truffaut's opinion[edit]

I've added a citation needed tag to the bit about Truffaut's considering Balzac and Proust the greatest of French writers. Though Balzac is featured prominently in The 400 Blows, I've never run into this statement in anything I've read on Truffaut. --Bateau (talk) 21:09, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

older entries[edit]

Someone suggested retitling this to Honoré de Balzac on wikipedia:votes for deletion

I suspect some characters for accented letters were corrupted with my May 20th edit. Anyone able to help fix them? Andrew Sly 08:19, 20 May 2004 (UTC)


The image used in this article [[1]] is a mirrored image of the one used in French version of the article.

The comparision with Dickens[edit]

The comparision with Dickens ( "...making him [Balzac] the Charles Dickens of the french literature" ) is bad ;Balzac is better and more famous than would make sense to say about Dickens that he is "the Balzac of the british literature" , but not the other way around.Please,remove the comparision from the text. Stefan Udrea 13:05, 31 July 2005 (UTC)

While I don't agree that Balzac can be said to be 'more famous' or 'better' than Dickens, I'd be in favour of removing the comparison simply on the grounds that it's fatuous to compare entirely different writers whose work is, moreover, internally pretty riven. The Balzac of Annette et le criminel is most unlike the Balzac of Splendeurs, and what has the crass Nicholas Nickleby to do with the genius of Great Expectations? - so what can we be comparing? Ajcounter 15:41, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

In fact I'm going to get executive and get rid of this, it's not doing any work at all in the article. Ajcounter 15:42, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

Comédie humaine page[edit]

La Comédie humaine is in great need of its own detailed page with discussion of the different versions, repeating characters and so forth (if "Doctor Who can get twenty pages, what are we Balzac lovers waiting for?). I started the page by using your discussion of the work. If the Balzacian wikipedians are happy with the idea, then the C.H. section should be removed from this page. -- NYArtsnWords 00:57, 21 August 2005 (UTC)

I went ahead and made the delete of the CH section from this page with a link to the Comédie Humaine page. Hope people are fine with it. NYArtsnWords 22:55, 30 August 2005 (UTC)

OK thanks it was me who expanded the article recently, though there's more biog still to put in. Uncle Wes 23:00, 31 August 2005

Is "Marcel Proust (that other weaver of a great tapestry)" correct in tone for an encyclopedia? - anon passerby

Sort of looks like....[edit]

Anyone notice Jon Lovitz looks like this guy?

Ron Jeremy too.

Horatio Sanz

    • haha, i just opened this wondering if anyone else thought this guy looks like jon lovitz.


Honoré de Balzac was born "Honoré Balzac" (without aristocratic particle) and not "Balssa". Stephan Zweig quotes his birth certificate in his biography : "Aujourd'huy, deux Prairial, an sept de la République française, a été présenté devant moi Pierre Jacques Duvivier, officier public soussigné, un enfant mâle par le citoyen Bernard François Balzac, propriétaire, demeurant en cette commune, rue de l'Armée d'Italie, section du Chardonnet n°25, lequel m'a déclaré que ledit enfant s'appelle Honoré Balzac, né d'hier à onze heures du matin, au domicile du déclarant..." It was Honoré's father (Bernard François) who was born "Balssa". He changed his name in "Balzac" between 1773 and 1783.

  • The article also fails to mention when Balzac started to use the "de" as a part of the name and why. Pavel Vozenilek 17:30, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Balzac's own family only started using the nobiliary particle ("de") in the 1820's; according to a brief footnote I happened upon, this was ostensibly "to improve their social position". --Todeswalzer|Talk 03:27, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

The comparison with Dickens[edit]

Indeed the comparison with Dickens is not appropriate, not only because Balzac is a better writer, but also because their works are very different. Balzac shows a complete panorama of the French society during the Restoration on the topic of the "illusions perdues", but strictly speaking it is not a social work. Dickens could rather be compared to another great French novelist, who wrote later a social criticism, Emile Zola.

Personally, I think the best modern-day comparison would be Adam Corolla Zena Dhark…·°º•ø®@» 20:22, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
I wouldn't compare Dickens to Zola : whereas Zola painted a truthful, almost a pitiless picture of the society and nature humaine, Dickens tended to sentimentality and would create black-and-white characters.Constanz - Talk 06:30, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
lawl Shimo1989 (talk) 01:49, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Original research and lack of references[edit]

This article needs some serious work. Take a look at Henry James for how it should be done. 17:42, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

"Popular culture" section...[edit] getting ridiculous. Not a day goes by without someone adding yet another entry; I can't think of any other major cultural figure whose article has a similar section. In particular, there are numerous entries which aren't really references to Balzac at all, just weak puns on the supposed similarity between his name and the phrase "ball sac": perhaps these could be reduced to one more concise entry, if not excised altogether. I am so uptight that I can't even spell "ballsack" the right way. No amount of lubricant could facilitate removal of the enormous stick up my ass for the suction is too great. Ajcounter 15:47, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Sir, if I may chip in a few thoughts, I believe it is most preposterous to say that the name "Balzac" and the vulgar slang "ball sac" do not sound amazingly similar. It baffles me to think that anyone could hear this name and respond to it in a serious manner. The comparison is most certainly not "supposed" at all. As for the popular culture section, it is quite large, like Balzac himself, and should be trimmed a bit, also like Balzac. Aaрон Кинни (t) 03:51, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I've re-orged the pop culture section to be roughly chronological, and segregated the ball sack entries to their own subsection. I'm remarkably pleased to have been able to legitimately title an encyclopedia section "Scrotum puns". Don't any of you bowdlerize it! I don't believe in trimming data; if the section gets too big, split it to an article on Balzac's influence on pop culture, or at least move it to a list. If other cultural figures don't have pop culture sections on their ongoing influence over time, they should. -- Akb4 05:57, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I've offloaded the whole section to leaf article Honoré de Balzac in popular culture. This is the only practical way to keep the main body of the text on topic. Pavel Vozenilek 17:27, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Since the article has been deleted, I wonder if there's any way for me to view an archive of the page? I'm curious to know if it's possible to resurrect it in some responsible manner. (Every Simpsons reference must be honred.) -- Scartol 12:53, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Is Henry James on Balzac actually true? When he says that Balzac was immense, but hung together? Seems a little too perfect to me... (talk) 17:51, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
If only there were a book to which that quote is referenced.. Then we could find that book and check to make sure the quote is accurate. =) Yes, the quote is real, exceedingly perfect as it may seem. Scartol • Tok 18:46, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

French Titles[edit]

I've noticed that the all the titles of Balzac's works are listed in their original French, and those that link to independent articles also lead to articles under the original French titles as well.

As per Wikipedia's Naming Conventions, it was my understanding that these should be translated to English. Is there a reason that the native French has taken precendence over English? --Todeswalzer|Talk 23:07, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

I simply wish to say that Balzac a french name should not be so easily denigrated by it english sonourus comparision, it only shows the highly infintile nature of english speaking people to always have floating a crude reference to things, particularlly words and names that arnt even english rather than, (and i refer to Americans most prominatly), show some sensitivity and appreciation to the inherent distinctions of forieng things and name particularily names. The grammer and spelling of this blurb also shows the crudness of my own American education. none-the-less this is a matter of mechanical apprehension and discliplin whereas if i were to meet a foriener out of respect for them and myself i would not trample over ther given name as if it were any ole' word. Cedar Frost.

What are you talking about? Your response has no bearing to anything in this discussion. ---Adasta- 16:34, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Monsieur Frost, je ne sais pas si vous était sérieux au-desus ou non, mai je n'ai aucun problème avec le fait que Balzac était fraçais, bien sur. Ce n'est pas une question d'impérialisme culturelle, comme vous suggèrez, mais une question de politique de quoi faire avec les articles concernant des matériaux qui ont étés écrivés dans une langue d'autre que celle ce dont on voulait les discuter. Puisqu'on se trouve sur la vérsion de Wikipedia anglaise, et puisque c'est une << règle >> générale de traduissez les titres, ma question demandant pourquoi nous n'avons pas adopté cette règle ici est bien pertinent. De plus, je n'ai compris rien de ce que vous voulait dire par << mechanical apprehension and discipline >>. --Todeswalzer|Talk 00:49, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

M. Frost, I'm not sure if you were trying to be serious above or not, but I have no problem at all with the fact that Balza was French, of course. It isn't an issue of cultural imperialism, as you suggest, but an issue of policy regarding what to do with articles addressing materials that are written in a language other than that in which we would like to discuss them. Since we're on the English version of Wikipedia, and since it's a general "rule" to translate all titles, my question asking why we haven't adopted that policy here is clearly relevant. Furthermore, I have no idea what you're trying to say with "mechanical apprehension and discipline". --Todeswalzer|Talk 00:49, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

You're right, the titles should be given in English -- could you see to this? I think the reason the titles have been given in French so far is that there's sometimes more than one published translation, and some of the well-known titles (The Wild Ass's Skin, A Harlot High and Low, The Black Sheep) are either weak or arbitrary. But there's nothing we can do about that. And yes, relevant linking articles should be moved as well. And I think "Cedar Frost" is referring to the spurious Balzac/Ball-sack similarity which has been referenced with tiresome regularity on this page, and which has, if memory serves, been entirely removed... Ajcounter 08:54, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

references and sources[edit]

If you can read french, I suggest you might translate a few sources and references from de french version of subject Honoré de Balzac. Just go to [[2]].

  • and please , note that his novels are not farcical, most of them are dramas or philosophical tales or analytic studies. You can find me on the french side under the user's name L'Oursonne.See you later.-- 00:21, 11 June 2007 (UTC)
I changed Louis to louis as it is usually referred to in English. Yes, it is a coin named after King Louis; but the *coin* is not capitalized. (Ref: [3] which cites a bunch of sources on that.) Also I changed "short stories and plays" in the opening section to "short stories and novels." Balzac's plays are not considered good (or even by him, in some cases) and it's his novels that make up the Comédie Humaine. I'm going to try to translate some of the French Wiki article for info here. Evangeline (talk) 00:03, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Comediens sans le savoir / Unconscious comedians[edit]

I'm looking for the date this work was originally published and the date it was originally translated into English by Katharine Prescott Wormeley. I've found 1896 or 1846 for the French publication but for the English I can only find that Katharine Prescott Wormeley lived from 1830 to 1908. Can anybody please provide or confirm these dates? — Hippietrail 08:40, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

No References tag?[edit]

The "this article needs references" tag was removed not long after it was added; no explanation appears to have been given. Anyone know why it's not there? Pretty striking for an article this long (and rated B-class by several projects) to have no references. -- Scartol 12:56, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm commencing a rather significant update/revision to the page, pursuant to the Saintsbury biographical essay in Balzac's Collected Works. Since there aren't any sources given at present, I'm going to be bold and make changes such as his DOB. May the gods and admins forgive me if I do wrong. — Scartol 14:46, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Okay, I did a major revision of this article, adding many notes (well, two, but I added them many times) and cutting out much of the non-sourced bits. Phew! I hope I did everything correctly.
T:TDYK says articles "that have been expanded fivefold" will be considered; I don't know if my revision qualifies or not. Given my shoddy luck with that process in the past (and given that I already have one nom on the docket -- is it frowned upon to nominate lots of your own work at once?), I'll let someone else nom it if they think it's worthy. -- Scartol 18:06, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

GA fail[edit]

While sections of this article are very well-written and a pleasure to read, I'm afraid that I must still fail the article. Too much of it is unsourced and it is a little disorganized at the moment. A few weeks of hard work could easily bring this up to GA or even FA status, I think.

  • I see that much of the information for this article comes from a small introduction to Balzac's life. There are many book-length biographies of Balzac - these should be used as they will provide more detailed information.
  • The lead should be a standalone summary of the article, that is, a little article unto itself. It should reference each section of the article. See WP:LEAD and WP:BETTER#Lead section for hints on writing leads.
  • Identify people and texts you reference for the uninformed reader. Using a small phrase, for example, to identify Villemain, Guizot, and Cousin in the "Early life" section would let readers know why they should be impressed that Balzac studied with them.
  • The "First literary efforts" section is quite vague. For example, what "widely varied social and artistic topics"? Some representative titles would be helpful as well.
  • The "Literary success" and "Legacy" sections need to be sourced to reliable literary scholarship. The "Later life" section needs to be sourced to a reliable scholarly biography. (See WP:V)
  • There are a lot of very short paragraphs. It would help the reader follow the article better if these were either expanded or condensed with other paragraphs.
  • The "Quotations" section is trivia and therefore unnecessary (WP:TRIVIA). Wikiquote serves this function.
  • It would be very helpful to have a separate page listing all of Balzac's works with a selection listed on this page.
  • I would move the "Works" section after the "Legacy" section - the list interrupts the flow of the article.
  • The "Legacy" section is a prose list. Can you make it flow together more smoothly?
  • All of the images are on the right side of the page - staggering the images would make the page more aesthetic.
  • There is some discussion of Balzac's writings and his artistic style in the "Literary success" section, but much more needs to be added. Balzac is notable because he is an author, therefore his writing needs to be discussed in more depth. I would either integrate more information on this topic into the article (like Sarah Trimmer) or separate it out into a separate section (like Anna Laetitia Barbauld).

If you have any questions regarding this review, drop a line on my talk page. Awadewit | talk 04:11, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I have now read three additional books and dedicated the last two days of my life to fixing all of these things, and renominated the article for GA status. I know it's a fast turnaround, but it's not a stretch to say that I've done nothing else for the past 48 hours — outside of eating, sleeping (a little), and watching Stweart and Colbert. (I don't want to get ahead of myself, but my ego and fatigued brain force me to wonder if it's not nearly in A-class or even FA shape.)
Thanks to whoever reads/reviews it next. I'm going to take a break now. — ScartolTalk 20:35, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Date of Birth[edit]

Rogers and Robb both give 20 May as the DOB; but Saintsbury in The Works gives 16 May — and backs it up with the fact that it is the day of Saint Honoré of Amiens. So who do we believe? I vote for the latter, but I don't want to be an autocrat about this. -- Scartol 18:58, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

May 20 given by "Honoré de Balzac." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2007.
May 20 given by Dictionnaire de la politique francaise, 1967, on World Biographical Information System Online. FWIW. –Outriggr § 00:52, 23 August 2007 (UTC)
May 20 given by
  • "Honore de Balzac," in Literature Resource Center. (An introduction to the author's life and works)

de Balzac, Honoré

  • "Honoré de Balzac," in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 119: Nineteenth-Century French Fiction Writers: Romanticism and Realism, 1800-1860. A Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Edited by Catharine Savage Brosman, Tulane University. The Gale Group, 1992, pp. 3-33. –Outriggr § 00:58, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, and Robb gives May 20 as well, indicating that the 16th (St. Honoré's day) had "just passed". I'll change it back to May 20. Thanks. — ScartolTalk 01:48, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

GA pass[edit]

What a wonderful improvement! I am so impressed! You must have had so much fun living and breathing Balzac for two days. Without question, the article is GA. I am adding a list of tiny, nit-picky things that you can address at your leisure. I would encourage you to take this to FAC after spending some time tweaking it and getting a peer review from some trusted editors at the Balzac WikiProject.

Additional material:

  • Could you describe the difference between realism and naturalism in the "Legacy" section? Most readers, I think, will not know that.


  • I would integrate the material from "Political and religious views" into the article. People rarely have one view on something, so I think it is best to show their views changing in the biography.
  • I would try to find a place for the "de" material in the "Biography". Such a little section seems trivial when, in reality, the information in it is not.


  • I think that the lead could probably be expanded. It is Balzac, after all, and the article is long enough to merit a more detailed introduction.
  • His magnum opus, a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie Humaine, is a broad panorama of French society in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte. - Can an opus be a panorama? It seems like there should be an "about" clause or something. It just sounds a little off...
  • Balzac is regarded as a founding father of realism in European literature. - I think "one of the" or "the" would sound better - whichever is accurate.
  • Balzac had trouble fitting into the society of his grammar school - I wonder if we are elevating grammar schools a bit by giving them "societies"?
  • His fiction reflects the difficulties he faced in real life, and he often included scenes taken directly from his experience. - Present and past tense in the same sentence - I think the "literary present" would work well here, don't you?
  • due largely to his breakneck work schedule - "breakneck" is a little slangy, I think


  • Infoboxes are optional. I, myself, do not think that they add much to the article. If you want to retain the box, I would suggest removing all of the information that is subjective such as "Influences" and "Genres". That information is generally best conveyed in the article. Also, it has been known to cause edit wars, unfortunately.

Small things:

  • His father, born Bernard-François Balssa, was one of eleven children born to a poor family in the southern region of Tarn. - mentioning the country at the beginning of the article proper is probably a good idea
  • Could you tell the reader who V.S. Pritchett and George Saintsbury are? Scholar? Biographer? (Same goes for other people you introduce.)
  • so named after Saint Honoré of Amiens, whose day had recently passed - By the time we get to this sentence, Balzac's birth is behind us by a paragraph, so perhaps explaining "whose day had recently passed" a bit more and its relationship to Balzac's birth?
  • exactly one year previous, Louis-Daniel had been born - To the day?
  • I wonder if mentioning that wet-nursing was common among the middle and upper classes in France at that time would be a good idea?
  • Anytime you mention a text, it is a good idea to give the date it was first published. It offers the reader context.
  • His father, seeking to instill the same hardscrabble work ethic which had vaulted him into the esteem of society - Can someone be vaulted into esteem? It seems like a different word would work better.
  • his time alone gave the boy ample freedom to plow through every book which came his way - "plow" might be a bit unencyclopedic, although it wonderfully evocative
  • But though his mind was receiving nourishment, the same could not be said for Balzac's body. - wonderfully poetic, but some editors might complain
  • This was by all accounts a fairly unhappy time in his life, punctuated by a suicide attempt on a bridge over the Loire River. - the "by all accounts" is probably unnecessary
  • In 1816 Balzac entered the Sorbonne - The colon in this paragraph suggests that all three professors are going to be listed in the same sentence. Could you rearrange it somehow, either so they are or the colon is removed?
  • Although it is — as are many early works by accomplished writers — of negligible quality - the phrase inside the dashes seems superfluous and hard to support
  • he tried again as a printer and then as a typefounder - I think we need another verb here "tried to [insert verb]"
  • In 1832 (after writing several of the novels in it), Balzac spawned the idea for an enormous series of books painting an enormous portrait of "all aspects of society." - It is awkward to have an unreferenced "it" at the beginning of a section.
  • his monumental contribution to global literature - this will have to be sourced
  • It established his style as an author of note - doesn't quite follow - "author of note" isn't really a "style" (except perhaps for Oscar Wilde)
  • fable-like tale about a despondent young man named Raphaël de Valentin, who finds an animal skin promising (then, as if by magic, delivering — until finally destroying) great power and wealth - a bit awkward
  • In 1833, Balzac struck gold - a bit unencyclopedic, I think
  • but in Balzac's case there was no telling how long they would end up - a bit unencyclopedic, I think
  • Balzac's work habits were legendary - "were" or "are"?
  • some texts which are really only works-in-progress, such as Les employés (The Government Clerks, 1841), are of real interest - "of real interest" is a little vague
  • He grouped the books by subject matter, rather than an absolute timeline - awkward
  • The second to last paragraph of "Legacy" repeats "Balzac" a lot.

Small/medium things:

  • I see that you have used quotations from Balzac's works to illustrate his life (for example, his time at school). I assume biographers do this as well? I don't think we can take those kinds of liberties ourselves, as much as we might want to.
  • These books were potboiler historical novels in the manner of Walter Scott and Ann Radcliffe. - Do your sources say this? I find it an odd pairing, since Radcliffe was knowon for Gothic novels. Although they were set in the past, they were not really "historical". Scott is usually considered the inventor of the historical novel (as I'm sure you are aware).
  • There are a lot of quotations from critics in "First literary efforts" - is there any way to reduce this?


  • Sometime, when you have nothing to do (!), you could check the links. There are some that repeat within a section (such as "Vendome" in the early sections) and some that need to be added (such as La Comedie Humaine in the early sections).
  • Why is "alcove" in quotation marks the first time and italicized the second time?
  • Anything linked in the article does not have to be listed in the "See also" section (some editors, by the way, are very against "see also" sections).
  • If you decide to submit the article to FAC, I would spend a day perusing the WP:MOS and checking the article rigorously, otherwise the FAC could turn into style session (which is very unpleasant, I can tell you from experience).

By the way, I love that you have actually used the word "haberdashers"! This is really a wonderful article - it is such a pleasure to read a well-written article. You have done a marvelous job of evoking Balzac's perspective. Have you checked out the French wikipedia article on Balzac to see if there are any nuggets to add here? I hope that you continue to work on Balzac articles. Literature articles (apart from those on American bestsellers) are sadly neglected on wikipedia. Awadewit | talk 18:06, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Stray thoughts from Willow[edit]

Hi, I'm probably going to have to review this article piece-meal, so this section is for thought that occur to me as I look the article over (and over and over... ;) I'm no Balzac expert, so please forgive my lapses.

  • I would offer more details about Balzac's adult life, after he rejected law as a profession. The lead refers to "difficulties entering society", but there doesn't seem to be much about that. The coverage about his various professions is good as is, though.
  • The 3rd and 4th paragraphs of the lead should probably be combined, no?
  • The final two sections, "Writing style and themes" and "Legacy", have a lot of good material, but the various short paragraphs seem a little scattershot, don't they? I think you should take this flock of wild birds in hand and tame them. ;) Find maybe 3 major themes for each section, write vividly on them near the beginning, and then put the sundry extras near the end.
  • I made a few re-wordings in the lead that may not be exactly accurate, although I tried to render what I was understanding. Would you be so kind as to check them and correct them, if necessary?
Yeah, they're generally spot-on. (Thanks especially for the de-gendered language; I can't believe I missed that one.) I changed the wording of one so that we don't have two sentences in a row with the same first word, and another to remove the pattern with "film".

Anyway, that's it for now. In general, please group the main ideas into larger, connected arcs, to give the article a stronger current that draws the reader in and along. Good luck! :) Willow 23:43, 10 September 2007 (UTC)

Thank you kindly. I'll get to work on these as soon as I have some more time to crack the books. Cheers. — Scartol · Talk 00:24, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
 Done Okay, I've done another reorganization of the lead, Style, and Legacy. I changed the wording in the lead about fitting into society; it didn't really belong in the article. His failures had to do with business, not social circles. Those other flocks are whipped into shape. – Scartol · Talk 22:22, 12 September 2007 (UTC)


  • Fernquest, Jon. Reader's Guide: Themes in the Novels of Balzac. Balzac's World. Retrieved on 23 August 2007.

I'm a little bit concerned about this source. Do you have any reason to believe that Fernquest has any other credentials than an interest in Balzac or that his site is peer-reviewed? It looks self-published to me. Since you don't use it much, perhaps more authoritative sources could be used? Awadewit | talk 00:02, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

 Done You're right. I found a spot in Rogers which makes the point and changed the note. Should we put Fernquest back into the External Links? Scartol · Talk 00:12, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
Sure. Awadewit | talk 01:11, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Link(s) to check[edit]

I'm not sure, so I removed the link. I'll probably do the same for the others. Scartol · Talk 11:20, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Coelebs in Search of a Wife - you can blame me for this one; this page is about a novel - I'm pretty sure the quotation isn't referencing it; however, I just edited the page to remove extraneous information not about the novel; check for sure, though Awadewit | talk 03:26, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    • I probably assumed – since I couldn't find the word anywhere else – that the reference came from there. But finding no signal one way or the other (in other references to that book or in the text I'm quoting) I removed it. Scartol · Talk 11:24, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Quotation at the beginning of the "Writing" section: Versailles - We're positive it isn't Palace of Versailles? (This is why I don't like to link inside quotations.) Awadewit | talk 03:30, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
    • Fairly positive. I haven't seen any evidence that Balzac had contacts in the palace itself. (And I expect if he had, they would have been mentioned.) I also generally don't like to link inside quotes, but it seemed worthwhile here, given the relative obscurity of some of the place names. Okay, let's FAC it up! Scartol · Talk 11:26, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

A few queries and comments[edit]

Here are some supplementary queries and comments, largely about minor matters, which occurred to me when reading and copyediting the article during its FAC:

  • In 1821 Balzac met the enterprising Auguste Lepoitevin; he convinced his new friend to write stories, which Lepoitevin would then sell to publishers. This effort quickly turned to longer works, and by 1826 Balzac had written nine novels, all published under pseudonyms and often produced in collaboration with other writers.[26] For example, the scandalous novel Vicaire des Ardennes (1822) – banned for its depiction of pseudo-incestuous trelations and, more egregiously, of a married priest – was attributed to a 'Horace de Saint-Aubin'.
I felt the urge to copyedit here, but I wasn't sure enough about what was meant. In the first sentence, the reversal of subject makes it seem for a moment as if Balzac did the convincing. I presume from "longer works" that "stories" refers to short stories. If that is so, it might be more idiomatic to make Balzac, rather than "this effort", the subject of the second sentence ("Balzac soon turned to longer works, and by 1826, he..."). I can't guess what "Pseudo-incestuous relations" means.
 Done Yeah, that was an edit from another person. It refers to very distant relatives (or perhaps in-laws, I can't remember) getting intimate. I reworded it and the other sentences.
Spot on. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Immediately after his birth, Honoré was sent to a wet-nurse; he was joined by his sister Laure soon afterwards and they spent four years away from home. "Soon afterwards" seems to me a little odd, since the gap must have been over nine months. What about "the following year"?
 Done True. Fixed.
Fine. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Although it pales in comparison to later works, critics differ as to its quality. I'm not sure if the two halves of this sentence sit comfortably with each other in this construction. (Critics could differ as to its quality even if didn't pale into comparison with later works; and if they differ as to its quality, perhaps some critics don't think it pales in comparison.)
 Done Reworded to: "…some critics consider it a quality text."
OK. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • The centrality of a father in this novel coincides with Balzac's own position – not only as mentor to his troubled young secretary, Jules Sandeau,[46] but also the fact that he had (most likely) fathered a child, Marie-Caroline, with his otherwise-married lover, Maria Du Fresnay.[47] I'm not sure about "coincides" here. Does "mentor" here mean that Balzac was acting as a father-figure to Sandeau? What does "otherwise-married" mean? (I do like the comparison with King Lear, though: that seems apt, since Goriot is old and neglected).
* "I'm not sure about "coincides" here."  Done Changed to "matches".
* "Does "mentor" here mean that Balzac was acting as a father-figure to Sandeau?" Yes.
* "What does "otherwise-married" mean?" It means she was married to another man. I tried to think of a different way to put it, but I felt like this was concise and as clear as I could get.
I think "married" would say the same thing on its own. 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I think a sentence of plot summary for Eugénie Grandet would be consistent with the remarks on the other major novels.
 Done Agreed. Added.
Fine. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • took the helm: does this mean that he became the editor? The owner?
Alas, the biographies don't specify. I would assume owner, since that was his usual capacity (after borrowing money). But I remember wording this sentence as is because of the ambiguity.
Fair enough. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • "While certain books of Balzac's never reached a finished state, some texts which are really only works-in-progress..." Does each clause refer to the same books? If so, perhaps the construction should be simplified; otherwise a redundant contrast is set up, I think.
 Done Agreed.
Fine. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • an intriguing dance of propriety and patience. For me, neither propriety nor patience conjure up anything dancelike (or intriguing). For this image to work, shouldn't the elements be in tension or antithetical?
 Done My goal was the play on the reader's assumption that these elements were countered by the burning passion in the loins of the participants. I included as much in the sentence itself.
OK, the burning-passion-in-the-loins card swings it for me. qp10qp 23:36, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Why did they travel so far to be married?
The bios didn't say. I think Robb speculates, but it's been a while, and I remember the discussion being filled with "may have"s and hypotheses, which I didn't want to include unless I had to.
It's like a scene from ("my brother was killed in the war by a Polish conscientious objector") Love and Death. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • What are "coelebs"? (Can't be "celibates", as I first assumed, since Balzac may have had a child.) The dictionaries do not help me. This difficulty could be got round by converting Saintsbury's remark to a paraphrase and using a more recognizable term for the meaning (unmarried people?). I'd be tempted to cut the whole point, though: Saintsbury may be an authority on Balzac, but on marriage?
  • According to the OED, "coelabacy" means "the state of living unmarried". It is not terribly clear whether the word implies chastity. Some of the quotations provided seem to imply that, but not all of them. The word disappears from English around the middle of the nineteenth century. (Hannah More's novel Coelebs in Search of a Wife is thus an allegorical title: a bachelor in search of a wife.) Awadewit | talk 04:13, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Yeah, I agree the word is sketchy, but I love the quote so much I wanted to keep it intact. Whether or not he's an expert on marriage, I think it's a fair point – especially since Balzac was an authority on many of the fields he wrote about (business, law, etc). – Scartol · Talk 13:50, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
OK. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • their home in Wierzchownia. Were they co-habiting before the marriage?
The rascals. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Where was Balzac when he died? It's a mundane question, but the information is probably required for an encyclopedia, I think. Since he died only three months after his wedding, I presume he returned to France (and Hugo visited him) with his wife. Perhaps that should be mentioned, because the last we heard, their home was in Wierzchownia.
Yeah, but I'll need to check the Robb bio again. He skips around a lot toward the end, so I probably just missed connecting that dot.
  • "deterministic". I would cut the word because it is used too loosely to be useful, in my opinion, and were it used more precisely, it would need an explanation. Better to use "naturalistic", I think, since the article explains that term.
 Done Agreed.
Fine. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
  • One critic explained that "there is a center and a circumference to Balzac's world." Does that follow from the sentences before, which talk about character types and individuality? It seems to me a rather bland statement, in any case.
I actually like it, since it gives me a physical representation of the boundaries of the characters. (It's in reference to the characters, even though it doesn't explicitly mention them.) Should I try to make the connection clear?
I leave it to you. qp10qp 23:31, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

qp10qp 02:16, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your attention to detail, and I'm sorry it's taken me so long to deal with all of this stuff. – Scartol · Talk 13:50, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Vanishing discussion?[edit]

There were a number of discussion elements on the talk page here not long ago. Now they appear to have merged into the WikiProjects metabanner. Does anyone know what happened and why and how to fix it? – Scartol · Talk 14:17, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Even somebody's discussion under the "Vanishing discussion" header below has been gobbled up somehow. I'm posting this above the other cruft so it can be see. For some strange reason, putting it here makes the rest of the discussions show up on my preview page, anyway, don't know what will happen when I save. Fix it, please. Gene Nygaard 15:09, 11 November 2007 (UTC)
It looks like there may have been a problem with the {{ArticleHistory}} template. I've done previews where everything looks okay here. If I save it and it's not, I'll change it again. – Scartol · Talk 19:27, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

He is the walrus[edit]

Recalling the sculptures by Rodin I saw in Philadelphia a few years ago, I added a small piece of information to the article. What I did not mention was another sculpture I saw, not by Rodin, but a parody of his work on Balzac. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? The piece resembles Rodin's depictions, except that Balzac is a walrus. MagnesianPhoenix (talk) 00:40, 17 November 2007 (UTC) [signed retroactively]

Harry Balzac?[edit]

I don't know how the wiki works, so I apologize for my lack of understanding, however in the first main paragraph of the article it reads "Harry Balzac"? Surely this is a joke (I don't know enough to say for certain, and leave that to another to decide)

No, it's vandalism, say it out loud to get the joke. You can tell because the title (and EVERYWHERE ELSE) reads Honore. We get rid of these quickly. (talk) 20:56, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Works section[edit]

How about translating the titles of the works into English and giving the English titles in paranthesis? Not everyone reads French. --RossF18 (talk) 02:44, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with RossF18. This article in English should list titles in English.AaronCBurke (talk) 12:39, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

There's a lot of debate about this. You might want to read WP:BALZAC. – Scartol · Talk 11:54, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Possibly needed clarification[edit]

I hope it's not just me: The sentence "While some of his books never reached a finished state, some – such as Les employés (The Government Clerks, 1841) – are still noted by critics." reads a bit confusing. -- (talk) 10:57, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

What's confusing to you about it? Books of his which were unfinished when he died are still considered important. Like Kafka's Amerika. – Scartol · Talk 11:53, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
This sentence confused me too. It's not clear that the second "some" refers to a subset of the first. I first interpreted it as "While some of his books were never finished, others were noted by critics", which is not what's intended. (talk) 13:16, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Vandalism is hilarious[edit]

I'd like to thank everyone who's been monitoring this page (which I helped bring to FA status) and reverting the constant vandalism it's endured during its TFA run. I tried to get some preventative semi-prot, but I was denied. I knew this would happen, and I'm thankful that you folks are so diligent and prepared. Cheers. – Scartol · Talk 11:52, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

I notice that a lot of the vandalism concerns the guy's surname (which has been punned as "Ballsack"). I also noticed that my IP (a school IP) was blocked for mudkip-related vandalism. Ah well, keep up the good work (although I'm concerned that the mudkip vandal didn't get a warning before the block). — Rickyrab | Talk 15:18, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
That seems wrong, but I had nothing to do with it. All of this could be avoided if the admins would apply a semi-prot, which they still refuse to do. Grr. – Scartol · Talk 16:39, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Pronounced... in English??[edit]

He was French and his name is French. Is it really relevant how English speakers mispronounce his name? So relevant, in fact, that it must be mentioned before the correct French pronunciation of his name? If pronunciation in other languages is really that relevant, why doesn't the article mention how his name is "pronounced in German", etc? -- (talk) 15:53, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

you may notice this is english wikipedia.--Leladax (talk) 16:36, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
As a user who helped bring this article to FA status, I must say I don't really care for the English-version pronunciation, but I'm too busy reverting vandalism to care very much one way or another. – Scartol · Talk 16:40, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
The different pronunciations serve different purposes. If the question is 'how did our friend Mr. Ballsack pronounce his name?' then, yes, the French. If the question is, 'how should I, Mr. English-speaker at the English Wikipedia, pronounce his name in regular conversation?' then the English. Yes, some people like to affect French accents when they use French words in English. It's just that, an affectation, and if you're the sort of person who does that, you already know how it's pronounced anyways. Does anyone seriously think it's correct to talk about Bah-REES YELTseen? --JayHenry (talk) 17:36, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
What in the world is the evidence that there is a distinct English pronunciation? Only the unabridged suggests such a thing, and its rather informal pronunciation terms make me somewhat dubious. I'd also be interested to know if anyone could explain the actual difference between these pronunciations. My limited command of IPA leaves me uncertain. john k (talk) 18:37, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Merriam-Webster supports differing pronunciations as well. The first phonetic spelling is Ah-nuh-reh the second is ah-nah-ray. Spoken quickly that'd be the same, the bigger issue is the stress on the last name. In English it's acceptable to place a slight stress on Bal, whereas in French you'd stress the zac. --JayHenry (talk) 20:08, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

ok, now how would you pronounce "Gutmaker"? (hint: it derives from "Gutt Macher") (talk) 03:09, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

The problem is that the pronunciation given as it is perpetuates an unnecessary error. There's no reason to pronounce the first "a" of "Balzac" like the "a" in "ball"; English speakers are perfectly capable of pronouncing it correctly, as in "ballerina". What JayHenry is suggesting is the "correct" English pronunciation is only ever heard in America, and is a totally arbitrary deviation from the French. I agree that it would be affected to insist upon a fully French pronunciations - palatalised "l", firm emphasis on final syllables - but surely there's no reason to relocate the first vowel, assuming we can all pronounce the word "Alabama" without saying "Awlabawma"? Ajcounter (talk) 18:21, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

That's precisely why we also include the French. (Many foreign names don't have standard English pronunciations, but this one does.) As for the first writer's complaint about the English coming first, that's standard per the Manual of Style. Not saying it should be that way, but discussion should be taken up there, since it affects all of Wikipedia. kwami (talk) 20:22, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
To be clear, I didn't intend to suggest anything was "correct" and the only thing I meant to perpetuate was a faithful reading of what Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Dictionary said. Indeed, I dream of the day where JayHenry is the ultimate arbiter of pronunciation in American English (that embarrassing day freshman year where I read indictment aloud as "in-DIKT-ment" would be absolved!) but alas in the meantime I defer to the dusty but trusty dictionary. --JayHenry (talk) 03:22, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Ajcounter that the so-called "English" pronunciation is one that is used only in America. It's equivalent to calling Nietzsche "Neechee", and has no place in an encyclopedia. Malcolm Starkey (talk) 12:51, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Robert Louis Stevenson[edit]

An IP pointed out a possible error:

He indicates that Robert Louis Stevenson, who had read Balzac's earliest writing, tried to dissuade him from writing these books.[1]

That can't possibly be correct, as Balzac died a few months before Stevenson was born. Is it possible that this remark refers to a different Stevenson? --JayHenry (talk) 20:15, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

No, Stevenson tried to dissuade George Saintsbury from reading those works. If it's not clear in the article, I'll clarify it. Thanks, by the way, JH, for patrolling all this vandalism. – Scartol · Talk 20:57, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Sigh. Someone must have changed it to "writing" and then it made no sense and then you removed it, JH – your move made sense, but someone changing it to "writing" didn't know what they were doing and now it's a headache to put it back in grrr why did I ever want anything I'd ever worked on to be on the front page? growl hiss spit. – Scartol · Talk 21:00, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Aha, that makes a bit more sense! Yeah, this front page business is really a mess. Ah, the joy of wikipedia. At least the vandalism bots catch anything blatant in a matter of seconds. --JayHenry (talk) 21:06, 17 November 2007 (UTC)


  1. ^ Saintsbury, "Honoré de Balzac," xiv.

Post mortem[edit]

Just for fun I took a stroll through the diffs. Here's the change between the 15th and right now. Absolutely no vandalism "slipped through the cracks" and remained in the article. So that's very positive.

While a featured article, Balzac received 150 edits, the majority of which were vandalism and reverts. By my count, the article was vandalized 44 times. Of this, 33 incidents were reverted in a minute or less. In total, by my estimate, the article contained some vandalism for 48 minutes in the last two days, which (conveniently) works out to precisely one vandalized minute per hour. And for the most part, the worse the vandalism the faster it was reverted.

There were a few outliers though. The worst was a 12 minute stretch here. The article received vandalism from two separate accounts in a minute. The second edit was immediately reverted, but the first edit -- changing his name to Ballsack in the infobox -- remained in the article. A third vandal struck the article repeatedly, and while his vandalism was instantly reverted, the ballsack in the infobox went unfixed for 12 minutes.

So not the worst I've seen but not exactly what I'd consider ideal either. --JayHenry (talk) 22:50, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

And all told, a pretty good argument for semi-protecting a page as prone to vandalism as this while it's TFA. Thanks again for your vigilance, Jay. You rock! – Scartol • Tok 03:40, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
We're lucky it was a Saturday. Vandalism is supposedly much worse on school days. It's an unfortunate byproduct of giving all them childrens computers to use in school. --JayHenry (talk) 07:19, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Painting vs. daguerrotype - opinions please[edit]

Recently Ilse@ made an edit changing the image at the top of the page from a color painting of Balzac to the original black-and-white daguerrotype. I believe that the color painting is much more appealing, and I'd advocate for a change back to the painting. Rather than risk an edit war by reverting, I'd like to seek consensus here and find out what other people think. – Scartol • Tok 13:46, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

It's a tough call in my opinion, because they're both good and interesting images. But it looks like there might be some copyright issues with the painting at the moment. Would be good if we could resolve those. It looks like the actual source/date of the image is a bit unclear. (If the coloring was not actually done more than 70 years ago we might not be able to use that image in the first place.) --JayHenry (talk) 04:32, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I see. I should have checked that myself; thanks for the tip. – Scartol • Tok 12:47, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Vague summary?[edit]

I reverted some edits from an IP but wanted to flag their claim that the summary of La Peau de chagrin was very vague ... not totally accurate. Since it is sourced to Robb, and the IP simply removed the citation, I restored it. The IP is from Oxford, but our Oxfordian friend also removed the non-controversial claim about Balzac's role as a major practitioner of realism. --JayHenry (talk) 22:37, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Wow, synchronicity. I'm actually reading Peau right now in preparation for attacking that page next. I think both summaries are correct; the one currently in the article doesn't mention the connection between the man's life and the skin's shrinking. However, the emphasis is definitely on the twists of life and the connections to Mesmer's theory, not so much the magic skin itself. And while I'm not totally sure, I don't think he marries Pauline; she's the wife of Louis Lambert. When I make more headway on the Peau article, I'll update this page too. – Scartol • Tok 00:25, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm a moron. Louis Lambert marries Pauline de Villenoix; Raphaël de Valentin in Peau marries Pauline Gaudin. My mistake. More to come. – Scartol • Tok 02:35, 30 April 2008 (UTC)


Legend has it that as Balzac was expiring, he called to his deathbed the great Doctor Horace Bianchon. Much to the amazement of those surrounding him. For they knew Horace Bianchon was a character invented by Balzac himself in La Comédie Humaine. And so in these last moments when life and death come to a blur, reality and fiction too were subtly dissolving into one another. Soon after, Balzac, Doctor Bianchon, and hundreds more, were reunited forever in the Legend. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:39, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I've come across this recently in other books I've read since this article became an FA. I'll add it one of these days. Thanks for the reminder! – Scartol • Tok 11:48, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
Also, coffee? (talk) 15:06, 17 April 2010 (UTC)
Not from what I can tell. He did drink lots and lots of coffee, and worked really hard all the time, but there's no evidence of a specific coffee connection to his death. Scartol • Tok 12:32, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Cause: coronary arrhythmia resulting from excessive ingestion of caffeine.Lestrade (talk) 00:30, 24 March 2012 (UTC)Lestrade


Looking at the page history, this article is constantly bombarded with anon vandalism. Would semi-protection be appropriate? Zazaban (talk) 21:58, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Naked Balzac walks[edit]

Is this worth a mention here (under subject) or under the artist? Hcobb (talk) 22:15, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Early works[edit]

I remember that Balzac wrote around 30 trivial novels in his early days, and there is almost zero reference to that in the text. So, could somebody find any info considering them? I tried to find some info in English, but there are not many informations available, so, perhaps, there is some info in French? HeadlessMaster (talk) 17:57, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Madame de Berny[edit]

Why this article makes no mention of this persona? She seems rather important. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 16:35, 2 July 2011 (UTC)

Feel free to contribute to the article.Lestrade (talk) 14:45, 25 March 2012 (UTC)Lestrade

correct age[edit]

Some one has edited to change the age in the paragraph "At age eight Balzac was sent to the Oratorian grammar school in Vendôme, where he studied for seven years. His father, seeking to instill the same hardscrabble work ethic which had gained him the esteem of society, intentionally gave little spending money to the boy. This made him the object of ridicule among his much wealthier schoolmates."

Anyone know whether it should be eight or ten?-- 🍺 Antiqueight confer 21:56, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Marx & Engels[edit]

The following sentence is unclear: "Marx's work Das Kapital also makes constant reference to the works of Balzac and urged Engels to read Balzac's work The Unknown Masterpiece." The implication here is that the text of Das Kapital (specifically) urged Engels (specifically) to read The Unknown Masterpiece. That seems possible but unlikely; more likely Marx elsewhere urged Engels to read it, and the sentence is just sloppily worded. 850 C (talk) 19:52, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Balzac and Dickens[edit]

The opening sentence of the Legacy section currently says: "He has been compared to Charles Dickens and has been called one of Dickens' influences." There is no reference for the second part of this sentence. I am not aware of any definite evidence that Dickens ever read Balzac or was influenced by his work. --Michaelpeverett (talk) 11:45, 10 June 2015 (UTC)--Michaelpeverett (talk) 11:45, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Orphaned references in Honoré de Balzac[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Honoré de Balzac's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "chancerel_pierrot":

  • From Maria Du Fresnay: Chancerel, Pierrot (1955), "La véritable Eugénie Grandet : Marie du Fresnay" [The real Eugénie Grandet: Marie du Fresnay], Revue des sciences humaines (in French)  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  • From Ange Du Fresnay: Pierrot, Chancerel (1955). "La véritable Eugénie Grandet : Marie du Fresnay". Revue des sciences humaines: 10–11. 

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 22:43, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Old page history[edit]

Some old page history that used to be at the title "Honoré de Balzac" can now be found at Talk:Honoré de Balzac/Old history. Graham87 12:29, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

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TFA rerun[edit]

Any objections to throwing this article into the pile of potential TFA reruns for this year and next? Any cleanup needed? If it helps, here's a list of dead or dubious links. - Dank (push to talk) 23:39, 10 September 2017 (UTC)

(At the moment, the only dead link is the one at - Dank (push to talk) 18:59, 11 September 2017 (UTC)

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