Balzac’s Marriage Advice

I found this story on an episode of QI.

The author Honore de Balzac (1799-1850) advised dissecting a woman before marrying her. In 1829 Balzac wrote The Physiology of Marriage in which he wrote: “A man ought not to marry without having studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.”

While this sounds extremely morbid, it was actually probably good advice to at least be vaguely familiar with the workings of a woman’s body before you jump into an intimate and life-long commitment with one.

However, maybe Balzac wasn’t the best guy to go to for marriage advice in general: he fell in love with a married countess who told him that he could not marry her until her first husband died. Balzac had to wait 17 years for her first husband to die before they could marry, and his marriage lasted only 5 months before he died.

Further, he had some extremely troubling views on marriage. He wrote, “A man should weaken the will and strength of a wife by tiring her out under the load of constant work, so that she has no energy left to cause trouble“.

More bizarrely, he also wrote, “Never allow her to drink water alone. If you do, you are lost.”

I wish to god I had context for this. I found the exact excerpt in a Googlebook here, but I’ll be damned if it makes any more sense to me.

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One Response to Balzac’s Marriage Advice

  1. Pingback: BizarreVictoria: Celebrating 3 Years | BizarreVictoria

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