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About the Author: Charles Paul de Kock

Paul de Kock began life as a banker's clerk. For the most part he resided on the Boulevard St. Martin, and was one of the most inveterate of Parisians.

He began to write for the stage very early, and composed many operatic libretti. His first novel, L'Enfant de ma femme (1811), was published at his own expense. In 1820 he began his long and successful series of novels dealing with Parisian life with Georgette, ou la Nièce du tabellion. His period of greatest and most successful activity was the Restoration and the early days of Louis Philippe.

He was relatively less popular in France itself than abroad, where he was considered as the special painter of life in Paris. Major Pendennis' remark (in the novel "Pendennis" by the English author William Makepeace Thackeray) that he had read nothing of the novel kind for thirty years except Paul de Kock, who certainly made him laugh, is likely to remain one of the most durable of his testimonials, and may be classed with the legendary question of a foreign sovereign to a Frenchman who was paying his respects, Vous venez de Paris et vous devez savoir des nouvelles. Comment se porte Paul de Kock? The 1920 Encyclopedia Americana attributes his greater popularity abroad to his style, which it describes as his worst feature . . . barely presentable, a fault evidently due to deficiency of education. . . . the defects of style disappear in translation.

The disappearance of the grisette and of the cheap dissipation described by Henri Murger practically made Paul de Kock obsolete. But to the student of manners his portraiture of low and middle class life in the first half of the 19th century at Paris still has its value.


Monsieur Dupont, Vol. 1 (Classic Reprint) Cover Image

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Paperback, Published in Jul 2016 by Forgotten Books

ISBN10: 1332803296 | ISBN13: 9781332803293

Page count: 302

Excerpt from The Works of Charles Paul De Kock, Vol. 1: Monsieur Dupont
The young peasant girls wore their charming light dresses and lace caps, and some had on their silk aprons, which are as much of a luxury for them as is a French cashmere for a bourgeoise, or an India cashmere for a woman of a different class. Pleasure shone on every face. Those who danced did it with all their might, and those who looked on promised themselves the next square dance, and already enjoyed it in anticipation.
Some Paris people mingled with the peasants. The little shop girls, who had come out walking with their sweethearts, did not disdain this village ball. Some stout mammas, seated all the week at their counters, teased and enticed their husbands to undertake at least one figure; and these gentle men yielded after much entreaty; and, once set going, nothing could stop them. The shopmen turned to the dance in search of the prettiest faces, and the old libertines of Paris prowled like wolves in the wood, in search of that which would please them better.
At some little distance from the ball, in the midst of the wood, which seemed like the centre of an amphitheatre, a numerous company of peo ple was seated on the grass, or, rather, on the sand; napkins were spread upon the ground and covered with pates, pie, cold meat, and fruit. Bottles were placed to cool, glasses were filled and emptied rapidly; the collation was dainty, and appetite and the fresh air made everything taste good. They formed plates of paper; they sent bits of pie and sausage ying through the air they ate, they drank, they sang, they laughed, they played tricks; each rivalled the other in provoking fim. It is agreed that everything is permitted in the country, and the bourgeois party gathered in the wood at Romainville acted as though fully aware of this custom.
A stout papa of about fifty years was trying to carve a turkey, and he did not succeed very well. A rosy, buxom little woman, very round in figure, hastened to seize one leg of the roast fowl; she pulled on one side, and the stout papa pulled on the other; the leg came off; the lady fell on the grass in one direction, and the stout gentleman rolled off in another with the remainder of the bird. Everyone burst into laughter, and M. Moutonnet - for that is the name of the stout papa - returned to his place and declared that he would no longer try to carve.
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