Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. Capital city of France and, in French eyes, the very definition of civilization. Paris is metaphorically personified in the plot by Monsieur Denoisel, a “true Parisian” who sells the land he inherits and invests the money in the stock exchange, thus rendering his capital theoretical rather than concrete. Various artifices and compromises allow him to live well on a modest income. He lodges in a snug three-room flat close to Boulevard des Italiens, dining at clubs and restaurants. Whenever his income is exhausted, he disappears from Paris and lives more cheaply in a country inn, where tobacco is his only indulgence, or even more cheaply in Florence, Italy.

The first Parisian setting featured in the story is the tastefully decorated house on the rue de Madelaine, where Madame Mauperin visits the fashionable Abbé Blampoix. She moves on from there to Henri’s flat in the rue Taitbout, with its ominous pair of swords set atop the bookcase, where he holds solemn parties that are more like academic conferences. It is close to the rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, where Renée was taken as a child, in company with Noémi Bourjot, to the lectures that Henri still attends, sometimes dropping into the Café Bignon on the corner.

Other Parisian settings featured include the auction rooms where Madame Mauperin and Renée go to see Lord Mansbury’s art collection; the library in the rue Richelieu where Renée overhears the fateful detail that costs Henri his life: and the Ville d’Avray, beside whose frozen lake Henri exchanges pistol-shots with Boisjorand de Villacourt.


*Bourmont (bor-MOHNG). Town in the Haut-Marne in which Charles Mauperin settles on his return to...

(The entire section is 717 words.)