CHAPTER THREE

PROLOGUE

Paris is indeed an ocean. Sound it: you will never touch bottom. Survey it, report on it! However scrupulous your survey and reports, however numerous and persistent the explorers of this sea may be, there will always remain virgin places, undiscovered caverns, flowers, pearls, monsters—there will always be something extraordinary, missed by the literary diver.

—BALZAC

If everything were as it seems on the surface, there would be no need for science.

—MARX

Paris in 1850 was a city seething with social, economic, and political problems and possibilities. Some saw it as a sick city, wracked by political torments, torn apart by class struggles, sinking beneath its own weight of decadence, corruption, crime, and cholera. ...

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