Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Where does he live?

Here is a book of the most succulent flavor, a book full of highly attractive diversions, a book spiced to the liking of the same most illustrious tipplers and most bibbers to whom Francois Rabelais, the eternal glory of Touraine, addressed his writings. Not that the Author presumes to be anything more than a good son of Touraine or to do more than gaily chronicle such high sport as amused the eminent people living in this fertile, pleasurable land. Ah, what a land it is! Richer in cuckolds, in bloods and in jokesmiths than any other on earth, with what a number of famous men it has fournished France! There is for instance the late Courier, of piquant memory, and Verville, author of The Way to Success, and what a host of others, equally illustrious! Nor, amid the latter, can we forbear from naming the Sieur Descartes, because he was a melancholy genius; because he cultivated the pale Muse of thought rather than wine and high fare; because the victuallers and pastry cooks of Tours hold him in just horror, refuse to acknowledge him or hear of him, and, if his name be spoken, shrug their shoulders and ask: "Where does he live?"

--Balzac, Droll Stories. Le Clercq, tr. Heritage Press (1939) p. 1.

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