Complete summary of Honoré Balzac’s Sarrasine. novella begins, the narrator is attending an evening reception given by Count and Countess de Lanty. Sarrasine The narrator is out of sight in a window seat at a ball. As he contemplates the garden he hears bits and pieces of various. Honoré de Balzac (–) may be best known as a novelist, yet he was also a prolific and skilled writer of short stories and novellas.

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The guest asks to be told the story of this man.

Sarrasine by Honoré de Balzac

It is the mid-eighteenth century. Sarrasine begins life as the only child of a wealthy prosecutor. Zambinella revealed to him those exquisite proportions of the female being that are so passionately desired, combined together in a really living and subtle way, and of which a sculptor is, at the same time, the severest and most impassioned judge. The mouth was expressive, the eyes full of love, and the complexion of a dazzling whiteness.


And one must combine with these details, which would have delighted a painter, all the wonders of the Venuses revered and rendered by the chisels of the Greeks. The artist could not stop admiring the inimitable elegance with which the arms were attached to the bust, the magnificent curve of the next, the gracefully drawn lines of the eyebrows, of the nose, and then the perfect oval of the fact, the purity of its clear outline, and the effect of the thick curved eyelashes, which ended in large voluptuous eyelids.

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It was more than a woman, it was a masterpiece! What he sees on the stage is something unbelievable: Sarrasine falls in love with Zambinella and courts her, but she is strangely reluctant to engage with him.

Then one evening he is invited to see Zambinella, but she still repels his advances. In response to his further imprecations, Zambinella then exclaims: I need xe take refuge in friendship.

Sarrasine by Honoré de Balzac « La Comedie Humaine by Balzac

The world is a desert for me. With some friends, he resolves to abduct Zambinella.

When the night comes, he enters the palace where she has an appointment to sing. She arrives on the stage and Sarrasine is struck by the oddity that she appears to be dressed like a man.


He asks an audience member why Zambinella is dressed in this way. Has a woman ever mounted the stage in the theatres of Rome?

He explodes in fury: If you were a man or a woman, I would kill you! To love and be loved are from now on words without any meaning for me, as they are for you.

In effect, Sarrasine encounters a double manifestation of castration: Hence the shadowy, vampiric apparition at the ball at the beginning of the story. First published in the Revue de Paris 21 and 28 November, Reboul notes that Balzac wrote the text a year after the death of his father.


Le bleu du ciel Paris: Blue of Noontrans.