Question. Who do you think is the greatest literary chronicler of Paris?
Balzac's Comedie Humaine is my biggest life time reading project, so far. There are 41 novels, twenty novellas and twenty short stories. So far I have completed 78 of the 91 works. Balzac intended it to be a complete portrait of French life. The works in the cycle include novels always listed in the top hundred of the world to works only those doing a read through would attempt. Balzac loved Paris and portrayed the city in great detail. Some say no city anywhere ever had a better chronicler than Balzac. Balzac very much was concerned with economics, the cost of things,
I hope to complete my read through by Paris in July 2017.
I should note that reading the full Comedie Hunaine is not a "crazy" project. Many book bloggers I follow could complete it in three or four months. I strongly endorse this as a life time project to all serious literary autodidacts.
"The Purse, reading time around twenty minutes, is a very good short story, with all the typical, for better or not. elements of Balzac. The lead character is a painter. One day he takes a bad fall in his studio and is found and helped by an older lady and her much younger female companion. He develops an acquaintance with them and is invited to their fourth floor apartment. Balzac does his usual masterful job of describing their enviorment, their furniture and such. He vividly describes both women. He becomes a frequent visitor and discovers every night an elderly Baron comes to play cards with the older lady. He always loses forty francs. He begins to wonder if this is his way of paying for something. He is troubled as he has fallen in love with the girl. Instant love is a common feature in Balzac. Some very interesting and at first mysterious events occur but I will leave them untold.
So far for July in Paris I have read
1. The Dogs and the Wolves by Iréne Nemirovsky
2. Mavis Gallant - Two Set in Paris works, a short story and a note book entry
3. Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter.
4. The Little Paris Book Store by Nina George
5. "The Problem of Summer Time" by Marcel Ayme
6. "Love Under the Roof" by Emile Zola
7. "The Purse" by Honore de Balzac