Book Beat’s Reading Group selection for July is Honore De Balzac’s novella, The Unknown Masterpiece. The Reading Group will meet on Monday, July 30 at 7pm in the Goldfish Teahouse (117 West 4th St # 101, Downtown Royal Oak). Books are discounted 15% at Book Beat. All are welcome!
One of Balzac’s most celebrated tales, The Unknown Masterpiece is the story of a painter who, depending on one’s perspective, is either an abject failure or a transcendental genius—or both. The story, which has served as an inspiration to artists as various as Cézanne, Henry James, Picasso, and New Wave director Jacques Rivette, is, in critic Dore Ashton’s words, a “fable of modern art.” Published in a new translation by poet Richard Howard, The Unknown Masterpiece appears, as Balzac intended, with Gambara, a grotesque and tragic novella about a musician undone by his dreams.
“perhaps everybody who works in a museum should be required to read “The Unknown Masterpiece” once a year. There is a risk in rationalizing museumgoing overly much. Remove all the unknowns, and you may ultimately remove the reason for going to a museum in the first place.” –Jed Perl, The Picture Unknowns; What Makes a Masterpiece?
“The greatest novelist of the nineteenth century and perhaps of all time.” —The New York Times