Kidnapping, murder, and prostitution: Eugène Sue’s “The Mysteries of Paris” takes readers into the squalid working-class neighborhoods and underworld of Paris in 1838. Sinister plans are made in the grimy dive bars where the city’s criminals meet, while family dramas play out in the chic salons of the aristocratic upper class, but the facade must be maintained at all costs. The juggernaut that is Paris, with its narrowness, its filth and its omnipresent crimes, brutalizes people. And in the midst of this swamp of the seedy alleys of the urban jungle, a strange savior appears out of nowhere to stand by the helpless and disenfranchised to bring the wicked to justice.
In a total of nearly 2000 pages, a richly detailed and colorful picture of everyday life in Paris in the mid-19th century unfolds. Dozens of characters from different social classes and their stories are interwoven with the main plot thread of the work. Sue combines elements of the detective story, the social novel, and melodrama to create a visually powerful epic of a bygone era, whose revenge motif and intriguing intricacies are at times reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo”, which was inspired by Sue.
“The Mysteries of Paris” appeared almost daily as a serialized novel between June 1842 and October 1843 in the Journal des Débats. The newspaper’s publication figures literally exploded, first book versions quickly appeared on the market, and the novel was translated into numerous languages. Sue received numerous letters from enthusiastic readers and critics. He took some of the suggestions they contained into account for the continuation of the story. Today, this tremendous novel has almost fallen into oblivion.
This is the fourth of six volumes of the monumental work.