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The Illustrious Gaudissart (La Comédie Humaine)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  25 ratings  ·  7 reviews
A gifted travelling salesman finds his master in a provincial lunatic. A comedic short story written by Balzac in one night.
Paperback, 26 pages
Published September 10th 2010 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1833)
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This is another of Balzac's short stories that are more of an extended anecdote than a tightly focused event a la Hemingway or Henry James. In this case, a French salesman gets the best of a supercilious Englishwoman by appealing to her innate snobbery. It's good for a broad smile, but it's more of a piece of after-dinner conversation told by an expert raconteur.
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When one undertakes to read the shorter, relatively unknown works of Honore de Balzac, one encounters aspects of the author one never imagined. The Illustrious Gaudissart is more like a facetious American work of the 1840s than what one imagines to be a typical work in the Human Comedy.

Picture to yourself a shaggy dog story of a traveling salesman named Gaudissart, who tries to make the sale under any and all circumstances. He appears to be indomitable until he runs into some peasants in Vouvray
L'Illustre Gaudissard est une courte histoire de Balzac qui est très sympathique à lire. Ce court livre a réussi à me mettre le sourire aux lèvres.
Fazackerly Toast
If anyone wants a clearer understanding and appreciation of the French, their national character and where they are coming from, they could do worse than read Balzac.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Very short, but amusing. Balzac is often sad, but not so here. In the opening few paragraphs he was describing those men who were "commercial travelers" - what we would call traveling salesmen. The cadence in these paragraphs reminded me of a carnival barker, or perhaps what I think a "snake oil" salesman might have sounded like. Just right to put me in the mood for a spoof, and I wasn't disappointed.
Gaudissart is one of the great commercial travelling salesmen, so renowned that his name is almost synonymous with the occupation. While in Vouvray he encounters several mystifying circumstances. Will he be able to unravel the mystery or has he met his match in these provincials? This short story is a fun read.
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Honoré de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of almost 100 novels and plays collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the fall of Napoléon Bonaparte in 1815.

Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders o
More about Honoré de Balzac...

Other Books in the Series

La Comédie Humaine (1 - 10 of 86 books)
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