Morris Dickstein is a distinguished professor emeritus at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and the author, most recently, of Dancing in the Dark, a cultural history of the Great Depression, and Why Not Say What Happened, a memoir. (January 2018)

NYR DAILY

Balzac’s Novel of Female Friendship

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Abandonment (The Two Friends), 1895

Balzac’s The Memoirs of Two Young Wives is less about two women and their stories than a trenchant dialogue about love and marriage by a writer who never hesitated to weave direct commentary and social argument into his story, contrasting these women not by their style or their voices, as Rousseau himself urged (and as a modern writer surely would), but by their clashing ideas.