The extraordinarily complicated bibliography of Balzac will be found all but complete in the Histoire des oeuvres (1875 and later), attached by M. Spoelberch de Lovenjoul to the édition définitive, and supplemented by him in numerous smaller works, Autour de Balzac, Une Page perdue de Balzac, etc. Summaries of it will be found appended to the introductory critical notices of each volume of the English translation edited by Saintsbury (London, 1895-1898), which also contains a short Memoir and general criticism. Before the édition définitive (1869 onwards), the works had been issued during the author's life in various forms and instalments, the earliest Comédie humaine being of 1842 to 1846 in sixteen volumes. For many years, however, the edition best known was that referred to in Browning as "all Balzac's novels fifty volumes long," really fifty-five small and closely printed 24mos kept stereotyped with varying dates by Michel (Calmann) Lévy, which did not contain the miscellaneous works and was not arranged according to the author's last disposition, but did include the oeuvres de jeunesse.
These were not reprinted in the édition définitive, but this gives the miscellaneous works in four volumes, an invaluable volume of correspondence, and the Histoire des oeuvres as cited. To this was added, in 1893, another volume, Répertoire des oeuvres de Balzac, in which the history of the various personages of the Comédie is tracked throughout and ranged under separate articles by MM. Cerfbeer and Christophe with extraordinary pains, and with a result of usefulness which should have protected it from some critical sneers. In 1899 appeared, as the first volume of oeuvres posthumes, an instalment of the Lettres à l'étrangère, and in 1906 a second (up to 1844) with a portrait of Madame Hanska, and other illustrations.
Works on Balzac are very numerous, and some of them are of much importance. Sainte-Beuve and Balzac fell out, and a furious diatribe by the novelist on the critic is preserved; but the latter's postmortem examination in Causeries du lundi, vol. ii., is not unfair, though it could hardly be cordial. Gautier, who was a very intimate and trusty friend of Balzac, has left an excellent study, mainly personal, reprinted in his Portraits contemporains. Lamartine produced a volume, not of much value, on Balzac in 1866; and minor contemporaries - Gozlan, Lemer, Champfleury - supplied something. But the series of important studies of Balzac, based on the whole of his work and not biased by friendship or enmity, begins with Taine's Essay of 1858, reprinted in volume form, 1865. Even then the oeuvres diverses were accessible only by immense labour in the scattered originals, and the invaluable Correspondance not at all. It was not till the reunion of all in the édition définitive was completed, that full study of man and work was possible.
To this edition itself was attached a sort of official critical introduction, L'oeuvre de Balzac, by M. Marcel Barrière (1890). But this is largely occupied by elaborate analyses of the different books, and the purely critical part is small, and not of the first value. Better are M. Paul Flat's Essais sur Balzac (2 vols., 1893-1894), which busy themselves especially with tracing types of character. Important and new biographical details (including the proper spelling of the name) were given in M. Edmond Biré's Honoré de Balzac (1897). The Balzac ignoré of A. Cabanes (1899) is chiefly remarkable for its investigations of Balzac's fancy for occult studies, and the first part (Balzac imprimeur) of MM. Hanotaux and Vicaire's La Jeunesse de Balzac (1903) mentioned above, for its dealing with the printing business and the intimacy with Madame de Berny. Two most important studies of Balzac in French, are those of M. A. Le Breton, Balzac, l'homme et l'oeuvre (1905), a somewhat severe, but critical and very well-informed examination, and M. Ferdinand Brunetière's Honoré de Balzac (1906), a brilliant but rather one-sided panegyric on the subject as the evolver of the modern novel proper, and a realist and observer par excellence.
In English, translations of separate books are innumerable; of the whole, besides that mentioned above, but containing a few things there omitted, an American version by Miss Wormeley and others may be mentioned. The most elaborate monograph in English, till recently, was F. Wedmore's Balzac (1887), with a useful bibliography up to the time. The recent additions to our knowledge are utilized in Miss Mary F. Sandars' Balzac (1904), a rather popular, but full and readable summary, chiefly of the life, from all but the latest documents, and W. H. Helm's Aspects of Balzac (1905), which is critical as well as anecdotic. The present writer, besides the critical and biographical essays referred to above, prefixed a shorter one to a translation of Les Chouans executed by himself in 1890.