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The Bureaucrats (European Classics) de…
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The Bureaucrats (European Classics) (original: 1838; edição: 1993)

de Honore de Balzac (Autor), Charles Foulkes (Tradutor), Marco Diani (Editor)

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813264,799 (3.4)1
The Bureaucrats (Les Employes) stands out in Balzac's immense Human Comedy by concentrating precisely and penetratingly on a distinctive "modern" institution: France's state bureaucracy. Rabourdin, aided by his unscrupulous wife, attempts to reorganize and streamline the entire system. Rabourdin's plan will halve the government's size while doubling its revenue. When the plan is leaked, Rabourdin's rival--an utter incompetent--gains the overwhelming support of the frightened and desperate body of low-ranking functionaries. The novel contains the recognizable themes of Balzac's work: obsessive ambition, conspiracy and human pettiness, and a melodramatic struggle between the social good and the evils of folly and stupidity. It is also an unusual, dramatized analysis of a developing political institution and its role in shaping social class and mentality.… (mais)
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Exibindo 3 de 3
A strange creation. Part study, part Platonic dialogue, part novel, it all adds up to a fascinating, but uneven, literary artifact.

The Bureaucrats is Balzac's study of the French bureaucracy under the reign of Charles X in the 1920s. It begins with about 100 pages of essentially prefatory material that serially introduces the dozens of characters that populate this novel, explaining where they came from, what role they play in the bureaucracy, and what their plans for the future contain. There are little bits of storytelling in the first part, but mostly Balzac is setting up the story--which takes up the next 150 pages of the book.

It can be hard to keep track of all of the kaleidoscope of characters, bureaucratic positions, and machinations, but the basic story comes through increasingly clearly. The division director dies and needs to be replaced. Two bureau chiefs are jockeying for the position. The Minister has to make the decision, but mostly delegates it to his fixer, the Secretary-General, who himself is mostly focused on sleeping with one of the bureau chief's wives, getting out of debt, and becoming a Deputy. A large cast of bureaucratic underlings play an important role in the adroit and impressive machinations of the two camps. Ultimately, the good bureau chief loses out and the one who it would be overly generous to describe as a mediocrity ascends one rung up the ladder to become Division Director.

All of the characters are recognizable and are presented as much as types as they are as individuals, but all of them are also unique and come to feel like individuals, albeit ones that generally do not evolve over the course of the book. In that way, it is typical Balzac, although the ratio of "types" in a study to characters in a story is higher in the case of The Bureaucrats", which has no one, for example, that approaches Lucien de Rubempr̩ of Lost Illusions and A Harlot High and Low.

Much of the book feels strikingly modern, including the discussions of tax reform (the reformist division chief favors a broader base with lower rates),government reform (he favors consolidating departments, although interestingly dramatically reducing staffing and dramatically raising salaries--which is not a view I associate with anyone today), and bureaucratic infighting.

I would not recommend this as the place to start with Balzac or even as a particularly great work, but it has a lot of greatness in it and makes for an interesting addition to Balzac's universe. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
L'opera fu scritta da Balzac in sei settimane e fu pubblicata a puntate sulla "Presse" dal 1° al 14 luglio 1837. Ambientato nella Francia della prima metà degli anni Venti, quando l'efficiente amministrazione voluta da Napoleone è degenerata in un sistema di clientelismo politico, il romanzo si ispira alle sfortunate vicende personali del cognato di Balzac.
"Balzac è attirato dalle straordinarie potenzialità narrative dell'universo impiegatizio - spiega Bruno Nacci nella prefazione. Quello che lo colpisce è soprattutto l'analogia tra il mondo politieo e quello degli uffici, perché uno dei temi di fondo della narrativa balzachiana è proprio l'intreccio dei rapporti umani, quella trama fitta di scontri e alleanze, di giuramenti e di menzogne. L'ambiente degli uffici offre il vantaggio di poter rappresentare questa moderna guerra senza spargimenti di sangue, tutta e solo mentale, che senza rinunciare allo scopo della guerra vera, riduce l'eroismo, l'astuzia e la viltà, alle varianti di un orrido e gentile galateo".
  Cerberoz | Mar 15, 2012 |
A strange creation. Part study, part Platonic dialogue, part novel, it all adds up to a fascinating, but uneven, literary artifact.

The Bureaucrats is Balzac's study of the French bureaucracy under the reign of Charles X in the 1920s. It begins with about 100 pages of essentially prefatory material that serially introduces the dozens of characters that populate this novel, explaining where they came from, what role they play in the bureaucracy, and what their plans for the future contain. There are little bits of storytelling in the first part, but mostly Balzac is setting up the story--which takes up the next 150 pages of the book.

It can be hard to keep track of all of the kaleidoscope of characters, bureaucratic positions, and machinations, but the basic story comes through increasingly clearly. The division director dies and needs to be replaced. Two bureau chiefs are jockeying for the position. The Minister has to make the decision, but mostly delegates it to his fixer, the Secretary-General, who himself is mostly focused on sleeping with one of the bureau chief's wives, getting out of debt, and becoming a Deputy. A large cast of bureaucratic underlings play an important role in the adroit and impressive machinations of the two camps. Ultimately, the good bureau chief loses out and the one who it would be overly generous to describe as a mediocrity ascends one rung up the ladder to become Division Director.

All of the characters are recognizable and are presented as much as types as they are as individuals, but all of them are also unique and come to feel like individuals, albeit ones that generally do not evolve over the course of the book. In that way, it is typical Balzac, although the ratio of "types" in a study to characters in a story is higher in the case of The Bureaucrats", which has no one, for example, that approaches Lucien de Rubempré of Lost Illusions and A Harlot High and Low.

Much of the book feels strikingly modern, including the discussions of tax reform (the reformist division chief favors a broader base with lower rates),government reform (he favors consolidating departments, although interestingly dramatically reducing staffing and dramatically raising salaries--which is not a view I associate with anyone today), and bureaucratic infighting.

I would not recommend this as the place to start with Balzac or even as a particularly great work, but it has a lot of greatness in it and makes for an interesting addition to Balzac's universe. ( )
  jasonlf | Feb 7, 2012 |
Exibindo 3 de 3
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Balzac, Honoré deAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Diani, MarcoEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Foulkes, CharlesTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The Bureaucrats (Les Employes) stands out in Balzac's immense Human Comedy by concentrating precisely and penetratingly on a distinctive "modern" institution: France's state bureaucracy. Rabourdin, aided by his unscrupulous wife, attempts to reorganize and streamline the entire system. Rabourdin's plan will halve the government's size while doubling its revenue. When the plan is leaked, Rabourdin's rival--an utter incompetent--gains the overwhelming support of the frightened and desperate body of low-ranking functionaries. The novel contains the recognizable themes of Balzac's work: obsessive ambition, conspiracy and human pettiness, and a melodramatic struggle between the social good and the evils of folly and stupidity. It is also an unusual, dramatized analysis of a developing political institution and its role in shaping social class and mentality.

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