A lost illusion, happily

I began reading Illusions perdues out of a sense of duty, as a required chore. My reasons: Balzac is too important not to know; several sources insist that this is his best novel; Karl Marx was a  fan; and finally, I wanted to know more about 19th-century Paris and to practice my French.

Getting through part I, Les deux poètes, was indeed a chore. It seemed to move very slowly, especially because of all the words I had to look up (I have Robert installed in my Kindle) but also because it takes many pages of description of a disagreeable illiterate printer, his antiquated printing machinery, and even his rickety house before we even meet the principal characters.