Passionate Prose: Balzac’s Love Letter

"I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you."
“I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you.”

Even in the age of email, texts, and snap chats nothing has replaced the power of a hand-written love letter. After reading Richard Feynman’s love letter to his wife, one reader was kind enough to pass along a recommendation for The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time.

In there we find this gem from Honoré de Balzac, the French writer, to Evelina Hanska. The love affair started when Balzac received some fanmail from Hanska, a married Polish noblewoman. What started as an intense correspondence quickly escalated into a full blown love affair. They married a few months before Balzac died.

Sunday, 19 June 1836

MY BELOVED ANGEL,

I am nearly mad about you, as much as one can be mad: I cannot bring together two ideas that you do not interpose yourself between them. I can no longer think of nothing but you. In spite of myself, my imagination carries me to you. I grasp you, I kiss you, I caress you, a thousand of the most amorous caresses take possession of me. As for my heart, there you will always be — very much so. I have a delicious sense of you there. But my God, what is to become of me, if you have deprived me of my reason? This is a monomania which, this morning, terrifies me. I rise up every moment say to myself, ‘Come, I am going there!’ Then I sit down again, moved by the sense of my obligations. There is a frightful conflict. This is not a life. I have never before been like that. You have devoured everything. I feel foolish and happy as soon as I let myself think of you. I whirl round in a delicious dream in which in one instant I live a thousand years. What a horrible situation! Overcome with love, feeling love in every pore, living only for love, and seeing oneself consumed by griefs, and caught in a thousand spiders’ threads. O, my darling Eva, you did not know it. I picked up your card. It is there before me, and I talked to you as if you were here. I see you, as I did yesterday, beautiful, astonishingly beautiful. Yesterday, during the whole evening, I said to myself ‘She is mine!’ Ah! The angels are not as happy in Paradise as I was yesterday!

The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time contains 49 other beautiful love letters.