Life

The Contradictory Life of Balthazar Kraai, the Scientist Obsessed with Finding the “Absolute” in Balzac’s Novel “The Search for the Absolute”

  Perhaps Balzac’s “The Search for the Absolute” is not his most touching work, but it is the most contradictory novel. The most contradictory thing is that in this novel he created Balthazar Kraai, a scientist obsessed with chemistry. This character is both hated and loved, and his life is even more touching.
  In Balzac’s writings, Balthazar is a rich man from the city of Douai in Flanders. He inherited the huge wealth accumulated by his ancestors, has the aristocratic status of a count, and has a wife who loves and admires him. They are two lovely people. daughter, and loyal servant. Their palatial mansion was beautifully decorated, and the garden was filled with the enchanting scent of rare and precious tulips. His life was a happy one, and would most likely remain so. However, all this changed after he met a Polish officer, because the latter was a chemist who once tried to find a mysterious substance called “absolute” that could constitute everything. gave up on his own exploration. Balthazar studied chemistry with the great chemist Lavoisier in Paris when he was young, and he also knew a lot about chemistry. The Polish officer’s exploration of the “Absolute” inadvertently awakened Baltazar’s dream of pursuing science. He also tried to find this “Absolute” through his own efforts, thereby deciphering the mysteries of the world. From then on, he began to cut off friends, built a laboratory in his attic, and worked selflessly from morning to night.
  But Balzac did not directly describe the endless scientific research life he devoted from Balthazar’s perspective, but examined this man through the eyes of his wife Josephine and daughter Margaret. A husband and father who devoted himself to science at all costs. Because Balthazar’s experiments were not only time-consuming, but also required various instruments and materials, he quickly depleted his family’s wealth. Although his beloved wife was anxious about it, she ultimately decided to support his exploration at all costs. She sold her jewelry and her collection of famous paintings. Finally, she died because her family property was exhausted and she was exhausted. After her stepmother took over the family, her daughter Margaret still tried her best to support her father’s scientific research career as her mother had done during her lifetime. However, her father’s experiments were too expensive. Not only did the wealth she saved through frugality turn into smoke in the laboratory, he also mortgaged all the family property without her consent to continue his scientific research. For the survival of herself and her sister, Margaret had to try to save herself. On the one hand, she used legal means to force her father to refund the children’s living expenses that he had embezzled. On the other hand, she used various connections to find a job for her father as a tax commissioner in other places, so that he could leave his own life. Laboratory, to change the terrible life that he cannot control. Seven years later, when Margaret finally revived the family business with the help of relatives and friends, and took her 65-year-old father home to take care of him in other places, she didn’t expect that he was as gray-haired as eight years old. The ten-year-old Balthazar once again owed huge debts. Because during this period, he did not stop his chemical experiments in pursuit of the “absolute” that he had started twenty-three years ago.
  Balthazar’s fascination with science and his unremitting selfless devotion not only make outsiders think that he is unreasonable, a possessed alchemist, and a wizard with corrupt conduct, but even his family members feel that he is unreasonable. He is incomprehensible and is no different from a madman. Balzac also repeatedly talked about his views on geniuses like Balzac who devoted themselves to their own careers in the novel. He said that a genius is the kind of person who “has no restraint and devours time, money, and body.” He also expressed his views through what his wife Josephine said to Baltazac before her death: “A man like you who pursues great things can neither have a wife nor a daughter. Go alone on your poverty-stricken road! Your virtues are not the virtues of ordinary people. You belong to the world and cannot belong to a woman or a family. You suck up the moisture of the land around you like big trees!”
  However, Balzac’s attitude towards geniuses like Baltazac It is also contradictory. He named the protagonist Balthazar Kraai, which may have a deeper meaning, because Baltazac means “the king who saves life” and “wise man”, while Kraai means “human being”. “Victor” means. Because the real progress of mankind is brought about by the perseverance and desperate struggle of people like Baltazar. Although their own lives and even the lives of their relatives are unfortunate, they bring hope to the future development of mankind.
  Perhaps for this reason, Balzac arranged an unforgettable death for the terminally ill Balthazar at the end of the novel. When Balthazac came back to his senses, he suddenly called out “Eureka”. And this word is the famous sentence that Archimedes shouted when he discovered buoyancy in the bathtub, which means “I found it” and “I discovered it.” At the moment when Balthazar died suddenly after shouting “Eureka” like Archimedes, his previous indifference to his wife, his unfaithfulness to his children, and his crazy obsession with scientific pathology seemed to be reflected in the readers. I was forgiven in my heart. And Balthazar’s hateful, pitiful, failed and tragic life has become noble and great because of this.

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