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Z. Marcas is a novelette by French author Honoré de Balzac first published in 1840. Set in contemporary Paris , it describes the rise and fall of a brilliant political strategist who is abandoned by the politicians he helps into power. Destitute and forgotten, he befriends a pair of students who live next door to him in a boarding- house . The story follows their many discussions about the political situation in France . Balzac was inspired to write the story after he spotted the name "Z. Marcas" on a sign for a tailor 's shop in Paris . It was published in July 1840, in the Revue Parisienne, a magazine he had founded that year. One year later it appeared in a collection from various authors under the title La Mort d'un ambitieux ("The Death of an Ambitious Man "). Balzac later placed it in the Scènes de la vie politique section of his vast novel sequence La Comédie humaine. Although Z. Marcas features characters from other Balzac stories and elements of literary realism – both hallmarks of Balzac's style – it is remembered primarily for its political themes. Balzac, a legitimist, believed that France 's lack of bold leadership had led to mediocrity and ruin, and that men of quality were being ignored or worse.