There are two different stories in This is not a story. The first recounts the story of Tanié, who is in love with a venal and greedy woman, Madame Reymer. Tanié goes off to Saint-Domingue for ten years to make a fortune for her. Madame Reymer takes advantage of his absence and finds other lovers. When Tanié comes back from his voyage, he lives with Madame Reymer for around five years. Then, Monsieur de Maurepas proposes that he leave to do business with the North, which Tanié accepts to take on because he knows that Madame Reymer is only with him for his fortune. He dies of a fever some days after he departs. In the second story, Diderot recounts the history of Gardeil and Mademoiselle de la Chaux. Out of love for him, Mademoiselle de la Chaux abandons all – her honor, her fortune, her family – to be with Gardeil. Somehow or other, they live happily. Gardeil, a translator by trade, works until he is no longer able. His wife helps him by learning Greek, Hebrew and other languages. She gives herself, body and soul, to make him happy, but one day he leaves her because she is no longer useful to him. She takes it very badly, but recovers some years later. She enrolls in the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and then writes a book (Les Trois Favorites, French for The Three Favorites), which she sends to the Marquise de Pompadour, a fervent admirer of good prose. She is invited to Versailles, but rejects this meeting and never ends up going. She ends her life in misery. Diderot concludes his book in saying that to judge someone based on one single character trait is going a bit fast, but that there is a lot of truth in generalities.
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