French subscription literature
7. Le Bal
Reasons to study the work
There is plenty to say about this short story which is straightforward to read and just as relevant as it was in its day in what it has to say about relationships, greed and social climbing. Exquisitely toe-curling.
The interest of the work
This short story by Irène Némirovsky follows the trend so masterfully set by De Maupassant fifty years earlier. Daughter of a Russian immigré the young Némirovsky created a body of work in the 20's and 30's which would go out of fashion after the war only to be revived with the discovery of her unpublished Suite française.
The author as she proved in her most famous work of the time David Golder took pleasure in denouncing the attitudes of her own milieu and in particular the world of banking albeit sometimes resorting to damaging stereotypes. David Golder became one of the first talkie films.
Lesser known is this work which in its turn introduces a cast of pretty unattractive characters. The author conjures up rich, nouveau riche parents who are throwing their first high society ball in an endeavour to enhance their position in society. Their teenage daughter who would have liked to have spent at least a few minutes strutting her stuff at this event is refused point blank. This refusal unleashes the second half of the plot.