May 20th marks the birthday of Honoré de Balzac, the inventor of the modern realistic novel. With his keen eye for detail and his unflinching assessment of character, Balzac has been considered a literary forbearer of Flaubert, Proust, and James. NYRB Classics offers one of Balzac’s most celebrated tales, The Unknown Masterpiece, and will be publishing a collection of newly translated stories from The Human Comedy in January 2014.
On May 22nd we celebrate the birthday of the multitalented Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). Doyle graduated from Edinburgh University with a medical degree in 1881 and worked both in a conventional private practice, and as a ship’s doctor. Best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle also wrote historical fiction including the epic tales in The Exploits and Adventures of Brigadier Gerard. The NYRB Classics edition includes an introduction by George MacDonald Fraser.