"The Illustrious Gaudissart" centers on a traveling salesman. You name it Gaudissart can sell it. The opening sections of the story in which Balzac talks about the work and the life of the salesman, especially his encyclopedic knowledge of the delights of the shady side of Paris are just great, among the best of Balzac. I can kind of tell when Balzac really puts his heart into his work and it is here in parts of this story. The weaker aspect of the story is in his long sales call on a country gentleman, called in my translation from the 19th century by Katherine Wormerley, "an imbecile". Gaudissart tries to sell the man insurance annuities of some sort as well as subscriptions to a journal and the imbecile ends up getting the better of him.
I guess this work is mainly for those reading through The Comedie Humaine but it is a decent story.