Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, July 13, 2017

"Gaudissart II" by Honore de Balzac - A Short Story Component of La Comedie Humaine - 1844

Paris in July - Year Ten - Hosted by Thyme for Tea

"To know how to sell, to be able to sell, and to sell. People generally do not suspect how much of the stateliness of Paris is due to these three aspects of the same problem. The brilliant display of shops as rich as the salons of the noblesse before 1789; the splendors of cafes which eclipse, and easily eclipse, the Versailles of our day; the shop-window illusions, new every morning, nightly destroyed; the grace and elegance of the young men that come in contact with fair customers; the piquant faces and costumes of young damsels, who cannot fail to attract the masculine customer; and (and this especially of late) the length, the vast spaces, the Babylonish luxury of galleries where shopkeepers acquire a monopoly of the trade in various articles by bringing them all together, —all this is as nothing." From "Gaudissart II" by Honore de Balzac

There are 91 components to Balzac's La Comedie Humaine.  I have seen numerous
 Statements by academics concerning the make up of the cycle saying it is 91 full volumes.  Here is the breakdown

45 Novels
25 short stories
21 Novellas.

Many book bloggers could finish this in under three months.  I have been reading on and off for a while now.

I have now read 81 of 91.

Honore de Balzac is the greatest chronicler of Paris, a towering figure in world literature.  His literary output, fired by a legendary fifty cups of coffee a day, is gargantuan.  He wrote five or six works considered among the world's greatest novels, some wonderful short works and some only one determined to read through his grand cycle of France, The Comedie Humaine, would wish to read.  I am currently nearing completion of this project and I urge it on all serious literary autodidacts as well as those into French history and culture.

A Gaudissart was, I think based on my google research, a term referring to a salesman.  I recently posted on a very good short story about a Parisian traveling salesman making a tour of the provinces.  Balzac focuses greatly on issues related to business, to the importance of money.  One thing you must respect is the tremendous range of practical knowledge of Balzac.  "Gaudissart II" written in 1844 but not published until 1846 is in the Poor Relations section of La Comedie Humaine.  It can be read in five minutes.  It is set in a millinery shop for rich women, they specialize in shawls, many imported from India.  As soon as a lady enters the shop she is at once sized up.  If she is an older matron a handsome young man is assigned to wait upon her.  If the young demimonde mistress of a wealthy old man, to give her a feeling of power, an elegant older man bows and scraps.  The primary customer today is an English lady.  The shop owner himself waits on her but he is having difficulty closing a sale as he cannot sense what she wants.  The close is a lot of fun, of course the French triumph over the English woman    Who ends being skillfully manipulated into buying a shawl for 100 times the normal prize.

This is a really entertaining story, pure Balzac.

Mel u

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