Literature and law
twelve o’clock, March 11, 2021 – 12:30
The book by Giuseppe Guizzi (Federico II) on the many legal aspects present in the novels of the human Comedy
of Alessandro Chetta
ADo you see the huge faces painted on the buildings by the artist Jorit? The types of the Human comedy Balzac’s are so macroscopic. And not only human beings, also the habitat in which they move senses and cruelty. It is also valid for the juridical transactions, “essenti” that the most shrewd novelist of all time used to certify the thousand commercial trafficking of his characters; a contract, a clause, a notice, are never lacking, in detail, in the novels. There is no civitas without a market. Bills of exchange to be discounted, to be endorsed, in protest, company transfers, bankruptcies, testamentary successions, everything must be read with a macroscopic lens in the Comedy, and the author’s invitation seems to be only one: this is the society that reflects you, described in the large and in the small, you cannot fail to notice it. As Giuseppe Guizzi has noticed it signing The Balzac case – Stories of law and literature (the Mill). We concede: it is his bread as a professor of commercial law at the Federico II of Naples, a nightmare subject for generations of Frideric students, and then evidently a highly skilled infantryman of the Balzacchian front. But the folds of the droit in the Human Comedy take on such gradations that only a discerning eye could draw a political lesson from them. Is already. Because Balzac, learned from his apprenticeship with the lawyer de Merville and even more from a life of debt, opened a breach in the spirit of the time. The euphoria of the first lasseiz do of the early nineteenth century, favored by new rules (the Napoleonic civil code and the code of commerce), it often died out in the social disgrace of the many bankruptcies, many of them in jail, and some diving into the Seine. The usurer Gosbeck, the winemaker Grandet, the oppressing fathers of the sons (the case of the Séchard in “Lost Illusions”) but also the “greedy savers” who hoard up risky but high-yielding securities, are just as many moloch generated by ambiguity of the law. Balzac denounces unfair justice with that hint of depression that accompanies the hunted. “How can a usurer have a power that the King does not have?” – Orsola Mirouet frowns – and how can young people be imprisoned for money? ». By criticizing the right for wrong, the great pen would unconsciously want to demonstrate the injustice of its debts. Few authors have been haunted by creditors like him, obsessively, day and night, at home and abroad. Emilio Salgari keeps him company.
Each of the eight chapters of the essay is divided into two parts. The examples removed from the “legal” events of the various novels are preceded by extensive historical and doctrinal frescoes on the cases examined: credit institutions, insolvency, the thorny issues related to inheritance in the French evolution of the Napoleonic era and then of the Restoration. Excursus often specialized, sometimes difficult for the layman, but in summa they return a society similar to the current one. Hence the absolute modernity of Honoré, and of his comedy acts valid for himself and for posterity.
March 11, 2021 | 12:30