Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Latin Quarter

*Latin Quarter. District of Paris on the south bank of the Seine River surrounding the University of Paris’s Sorbonne College. Predominantly populated by students and artists, the Latin Quarter is the primary setting of the novel, which unfolds during the closing years of France’s July Monarchy and the advent of its Second Republic. At a time when middle-class values are officially prized and honored, the young intellectuals of the novel resist and drop out of the “official world” to lead an impecunious existence among the lower classes. They think nothing of welshing on their debts and are consequently frequently ejected from their apartments. Almost as a matter of pride, the young poet Rodolphe sometimes sleeps in a box at the Odéon Theater and sometimes outdoors, once even in the branches of a tree on the Avenue St. Cloud. Despite their irregular living arrangements, the young friends stay in constant touch, having favorite places in which to engage each other in endless talk, primarily about what is wrong with society and about their relationships with women.

Café Momus

Café Momus. Quintessential Paris bistro where the members of the Bohemian Club are known as the “Four Musketeers.” It is located at the Carrefour de Buci in Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Près area, a center of Left Bank activities. There the four friends meet alone in a room large enough to hold forty customers, but because these fellows are so obnoxious, they drive everybody else away. Rodolphe monopolizes the house newspapers and bullies the café’s owner into subscribing to The Beaver, a unknown journal that he edits himself. Colline plays backgammon from morning until midnight. Marcel paints, moving all of his equipment into the café: easel, oils, brushes, male and female models. Alexander Schaunard uses the café as a place to advertise music lessons. If all this were not enough, these intruders even brew their own coffee...

(The entire section is 811 words.)