Balzac Sighting – Bohemians of the Latin Quarter


Amidst this resurrection of intelligence, Bohemia continued as in the past to seek, according to Balzac’s expression, a bone and a kennel.

The above is from the Preface of Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (Scènes de la vie de bohème) by Henry Murger which was the inspiration for a play, two operas, numerous movies and a jazz album.

A further Balzac-related quote is found in Chapter XVIII, Francine’s Muff:

Jacques belonged to a club styled the Water Drinkers, which seemed to have been founded in imitation of the famous one of the Rue des Quatre-Vents, which is treated of in that fine story “Un Grand Homme de Province.” Only there was a great difference between the heroes of the latter circle and the Water Drinkers who, like all imitators, had exaggerated the system they sought to put into practice. This difference will be understood by the fact that in Balzac’s book the members of the club end by attaining the object they proposed to themselves, while after several years’ existence the club of the Water Drinkers was naturally dissolved by the death of all its members, without the name of anyone of them remaining attached to a work attesting their existence.


Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (Scènes de la vie de bohème) by Henry Murger is available in numerous formats from Project Gutenberg in both French and an English translation.