A Family Boarding House
MADAME VAUQUER, née de Conflans, is an old woman who for the past forty years has run a family boarding house in the rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, * between the Latin Quarter and the Faubourg Saint-Marceau. The boarding house, known as the Maison Vauquer, is open alike to men and women, young and old, but no breath of scandal has ever sullied the reputation of this respectable establishment. It is also true that for thirty years no young female person has ever been seen there, and any young man who stays there must be getting a very meagre allowance from his family. All the same, in 1819 when this drama begins an impoverished young woman was living there. However discredited the word 'drama' may have become through incorrect, strained and extravagant use in these days of harrowing literature, it must be employed here; not that this story is dramatic in the true sense of the word, but by the end of this work the reader will perhaps have shed a tear or two intra muros and extra. Will anyone understand it outside Paris? That is open to doubt. The special features of this scene, full of local colour and observations, can only be appreciated in the area lying between the heights of Montmartre and the hills of Montrouge, in that illustrious valley of flaking plasterwork and gutters black with mud; a valley full of suffering that is real, and of joy that is often false, where life is so hectic that it takes something quite extraordinary to produce feelings that last. One can however occasionally encounter sorrows to which the concentration of vice and virtue imparts a solemn grandeur. At such a sight egoism and self-interest are momentarily forgotten and give way to pity, but the impression lasts no longer than the taste
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Pere Goriot. Contributors: Honoré de Balzac - Author, A. J. Krailsheimer - Translator. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1991. Page number: 1.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.