In a letter, Cather tells Sergeant that she has been reading Balzac.
In another letter, Cather claims that she read all of Balzac before she was twenty. She also discusses Balzac at some length at the end of "A Chance Meeting," the essay that describes her evening with Madame Franklin Grout, Flaubert's niece.
Cather also described one of the "Townsfolk" in a 1893 Journal piece: "He was a little legal gentleman who read a great deal of Balzac and took himself as seriously as most of Balzac's characters do."
Cather commented in a 1902 Journal article: "Balzac's monument is conspiciously ugly and deserted, but Balzac seems more a living fact than a dead man of letters."