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Honoré Balzac

Photo by Louis-Auguste Bisson, 1842

Honoré Balzac

Memory from Kraków

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Read by Wojciech Barczyński, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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Fragment of Balzac's memoirs quoted in Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński book Balzac. English translation: Maria Krzywoń
The Wawel Cathedral makes Cracow a place worth visiting. It has numerous tomb chapels, and the riches amassed in them may only be rivalled by those of Rome or some Belgian churches. Carved silver coffins are to be seen there; their sides depict various battle scenes, each portraying as many as eight hundred figures of humans and horses. There are chapels with bronze doors,  ornamented on  either side with different arabesque patterns, like those on unlined shawls. The fine workmanship of 14th-century sculptors proves that they were no less skilful than our contemporaries. The Cathedral  is a veritable treasure trove, yet, as I did not have enough time to obtain a special visitor’s pass, I could not see what is specifically called the treasury. The Cathedral interior abounds in silver statues, sculpted silver altars and liturgical vessels. The Batorys, the Korybuts, the Jagiellons and other Polish royalty rest there.
Fragment of Balzac's memoirs quoted in Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński book Balzac. English translation: Maria Krzywoń
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Honoré Balzac

(1799–1850) Ewelina née Rzewuska by her first marriage Mrs Wacław Hański, first fiancé and then wife of Balzac, one of the most important authors of contemporary European novels, lived on the Wierzchownia estate in Ukraine. Whilst travelling to his beloved, Balzac stopped in Krakow, at the White Rose Inn (Pod Białą Różą, today a townhouse standing at 13 Stradom Street): a location that must not be confused with Pod Różą Hotel in spite of what the commemorative plaque placed on its wall on Floriańska Street says. Although the Frenchman called Krakow “a cadaver of a capital” Wawel Cathedral exerted a powerful impression on him. He spent the night of 4th/5th May 1850 at the inn on Stradom Street with his recently married wife.
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