Balzac once received an unusual letter from the Ukraine signed "The Stranger." The writer, Evelina Hanska, proved to be the wife of a baron, with whom the writer began an affair which lasted seventeen years. Although the baron died in 1841, Balzac did not marry Evelina until five months before his death. Why so late? "It is easier to be a lover than a husband," Balzac explained, "for the same reason that it is more difficult to show a ready wit all day long than to produce an occasional bon mot."