... I had often been compared to the French moralists, occasionally to Lichtenberg; but never had anyone thought of Moliere, or Balzac. Even so, I reread Splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes, above all for the character of Nucingen. Still, it was remarkable that Balzac had been able to give the character of that lovesick fogey such a pathetic dimension, a dimension that's frankly obvious once you think about it, which is inscribed in its very definition, and which Moliere had not dreamed of at all; it's true that Moliere was working in comedy, and the same problem always arises: you always end up crashing into the same difficulty, which is that life, fundamentally, is not comical.
-Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island, 267-268