Short Stories

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The Ball at Sceaux

by Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

One of the earliest pieces Balzac penned for his sweeping story cycle The Human Comedy, this novella is found in the Scenes of Private Life section of the series. Social climber Emilie de Fontaine is a petulant...


Christ in Flanders

by Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

This short tale is part of the "Philosophical Studies" section of Honore de Balzac's The Human Comedy. Almost fable-like in tone, it recounts a boat ride carrying a group of passengers that represent a broad...


The Collection of Antiquities

by Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

In this novel, one of the last vestiges of a genteel family, the Marquis d'Esgrignon, tries to navigate the new social and cultural landscape that has emerged in France's post-revolutionary period. Even though...


The Commission in Lunacy

by Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

Part of Honore de Balzac's sprawling epic The Human Comedy, the novella The Commission in Lunacy focuses on the story of a bachelor who feels his youth rapidly slipping away and tries to renew his sense of vigor...


Madame Firmiani

by Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

Master of realism Honore de Balzac highlights his brilliant knack for character development in the short story "Madame Firmiani." The story's plot is slight, dealing in large part with the mysterious identity...


Melmoth Reconciled

by Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

In this long story, part of the Philosophical Studies section of Honore de Balzac's epic masterwork The Human Comedy, the author takes the uncharacteristic step of alluding to a previously published novel, Charles...


The Message

by Honore de Balzac & Ellen Marriage

In this short story, a pleasant afternoon carriage ride lends itself to philosophical chitchat between two passengers, who muse together about the nature of life and love. When tragedy suddenly strikes, one...


A Man of Business

by Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

Though a relatively short story, "A Man of Business" is an important component of Honore de Balzac's vast story cycle The Human Comedy, involving many of the recurring characters from the series and tying up...


A Passion in the Desert

by Honore de Balzac & Ernest Dowson

During Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, one French soldier becomes separated from his regiment and finds himself wandering lost in the desert. Just when he has given up all hope, he makes an unlikely friend. This...


Pierre Grassou

by Honore de Balzac & Katharine Prescott Wormeley

This short story is part of the Scenes of Paris Life section of Honore de Balzac's epic masterpiece The Human Comedy. Pierre Grassou is an artist who has many of the attributes necessary for success -- but lacks...


Poor Relations: Cousin Betty and Cousin Pons

by Honore de Balzac, James Waring & Ellen Marriage

This diptych is part of Honore de Balzac's epic masterpiece, The Human Comedy. It comprises two stories, "Cousin Betty" and "Cousin Pons," each of which delve deeply into complicated family dynamics and the...


The Purse

by Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

"The Purse" is a short story that makes up part of Honore de Balzac's epic cycle The Human Comedy. Daydreaming while working on a ladder, the painter Hippolyte Schinner accidentally falls and sustains an injury....


In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories

by Robert Barr

Born in Scotland and raised in Canada, travel was a part of author Robert Barr's life from a very young age. His wanderlust continued throughout his life, and Barr passed many months on round-the-world sea voyages....


A Prince of Bohemia

by Honore de Balzac & Clara Bell

This short vignette from Honore de Balzac, a key figure in French realism, is a story within a story. The narrator, Nathan, regales a pair of aristocratic ladies with stories about the Rusticoli family and its...


Mobsters for the Holidays

by Beth Mathison

Meet the most inept crime family you're ever likely to run across! Although they aim to perform on the same level of some of the best Mafia families...well...they never QUITE reach their goal and things usually...


Going Away Shoes

by Jill McCorkle

Jill McCorkle, a master of the short story whose work has been compared to that of Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore, is a writer whose characters insist on our immediate and total attention. Here, in her first collection...


Taking Chances

by Clarence L. Cullen

If you're a gambling man (or woman), the fast-paced stories collected in Taking Chances will hit you like a jolt of adrenaline. Originally published in the New York Sun, these tales of triumphs and defeats at...


Adventures in the Moon: And Other Worlds

by John Russell

Originally published anonymously, this early volume of fantasy tales was later attributed to Lord John Russell (who later became the Earl of Russell). Ranging from extraterrestrial adventures to philosophical...


A Chair on the Boulevard

by Leonard Merrick

Early in his literary career, English writer Leonard Merrick gained a reputation as a serious writer who tackled tough social issues with unflinching realism. But in his later period, Merrick's style lightened...


The Half-Mammals of Dixie

by George Singleton

George Singleton, who's had many stories published in the best literary journals, has recently burst into the big time with appearances in Playboy, Zoetrope, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine and Book....