Love and Real Estate: The Matchmaker and the Real Estate Developer as Social Types in Zola and Gaboriau

This article proposes reading Émile Gaboriau’s 1862 novel Mariages d’aventure as a precursor to Émile Zola’s 1871 classic La Curée, providing a new optic for understanding novels that deal with Haussmannian Paris and the families that inhabited it. In particular, both works draw parallels between the modern matchmaker and the real estate developer as figures of modernity, building French families and the spaces they occupy. The matchmaker and developer dealt in desire, either for women or for new neighborhoods in the French capital. Furthermore, these novels posit that dealing in desire necessitated a fluid gender identity, the developer and matchmaker exhibiting both femininity and masculinity when courting their clients.