Though a relatively short story, A Man of Business is an important component of Honore de Balzac's vast story cycle The Human Comedy, involving many of the recurring characters from the series and tying up a number of loose ends. As a fete thrown at the home of his mistress begins to wind down, Cardot invites the lingering merrymakers to settle around the table and begins telling a story about a clever debt-collection scheme.
Honore de Balzac (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comedie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus. Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human.
Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Emile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac, and Henry James, filmmakers Akira Kurosawa and Eric Rohmer as well as important philosophers such as Friedrich Engels. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films, and they continue to inspire other writers.