Fine and dandy

He looks like a slob here, but de Balzac knew plenty about elegant living.

I can’t wait to put my hands on a copy of this reprint of Honoré de Balzac’s Treatise on Elegant Living , just out from Wakefield Press and translated into English for the first time. It’s a guide for the 19th century’s dandy on living the poised life, just like the legendary Beau Brummell, who is featured prominently in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite.

Besides dressing for the part—”a rip is misfortune, a stain is a vice,” de Balzac claims—the author advises his dandy readers on their principle occupation, decorous languor.  “Elegant living is,” de Balzac writes, “in the broad acceptance of the term, the art of animating repose.”