Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dostoevsky on shopping in Paris

Enter a store to buy something, and the lowest sales clerk will crush you, simply crush you with his ineffable nobility. You are overwhelmed: you simply feel guilty before these salesclerks. You come to spend, say, ten francs, yet you are greeted like Lord Devonshire. For some reason you become terribly ashamed: you want to quickly assure him that you are not Lord Devonshire at all but just who you are, a modest tourist who came in to buy something for only ten francs. But the young man with a most happy appearance and ineffable nobility of soul, at the sight of whom you are ready to confess yourself a scoundrel (because he is at such a level of nobility!), begins to show you merchandise worth tens of thousands of francs. In a single minute he has covered the whole counter for you, and it occurs to you that he, the poor fellow, will have to put it all back again on your account, he, Grandison, Alcibiades, Montmorency; and on whose account? On your account; you, who with your unenviable appearance, your vices and deficiencies, and your disgusting ten francs have the impudence to disturb...

1 comment:

Luvvie said...

OMG as my 17 year old daughter would say - nothing changes does it????? What a fabulous account of shopping in Paris. Mind you it has been quite a while since I shopped in Paris. At least 30 years but I'm sure it is still the same. They are the epitome of sophistication the French, aren't they? God bless them. Someone has to keep some standards around here. And can you believe the word verification I have to type is a poorly spelled (but sound it out) hongenou - fabulous stuff!!!