Read The Fat and the Thin by Émile Zola Ernest Alfred Vizetelly Online

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"The Fat and the Thin" is a study of the teeming life which surrounds the great central markets of Paris. The heroine is Lisa Quenu, a daughter of Antoine Macquart (see The Fortune of the Rougons). She has become prosperous, and with prosperity her selfishness has increased. Her brother-in-law Florent had escaped from penal servitude in Cayenne and lived for a short time i"The Fat and the Thin" is a study of the teeming life which surrounds the great central markets of Paris. The heroine is Lisa Quenu, a daughter of Antoine Macquart (see The Fortune of the Rougons). She has become prosperous, and with prosperity her selfishness has increased. Her brother-in-law Florent had escaped from penal servitude in Cayenne and lived for a short time in her house, but she became tired of his presence and ultimately denounced him to the police. The book contains vivid pictures of the markets, bursting with the food of a great city, and of the vast population which lives by handling and distributing it. "But it also embraces a powerful allegory," writes Mr. E. A. Vizetelly in his preface to the English translation, "the prose song of the eternal battle between the lean of this world and the fat - a battle in which, as the author shows, the latter always come off successful. M. Zola had a distinct social aim in writing this book." (J. G. Patterson)...

Title : The Fat and the Thin
Author :
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ISBN : 9781595690524
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 301 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Fat and the Thin Reviews

  • Kalliope
    2019-03-17 16:38

    The cover of this novel should come with a warning. Well, may be not even just a warning, for it should be sold with a calorie counter. I am afraid I may have put on several kilos while reading this. Perhaps it would be advisable to read it while running on the treadmill. The lush descriptions of succulent food could well activate and stimulate the production of a peculiar kind of literary enzymes which multiply by ten the energy provided by ingested food if it has been deliciously described.Warnings should go also for the vegetarians. Or the sections dealing with raw meat on display, black pudding, lard and all kinds of sausages, could make them feel disgusted with Zola. These ought to be marked and those who want their cholesterol (the LDL kind) somewhat high would be interested in giving it a pass. The pescetarian types could instead go direct to the Fish pavilion and read and smell the bounty piscary. Zola’s account of the fish counter has the variety and range of an oceanic aquarium. In all shapes and tints. Flesh and Fish then. If these victuals are often presented in opposition Zola exploits this by making it drive some aspects of the novel. For the plot moves along the rivalry between the Butcher and Fishmonger ladies.Other people may prefer to move ahead and read the counter on cheeses and butters over and over again. Never would I have thought that anyone would ever write such an Ode to the Cantals, Gruyères, Bries, Port-Saluts, Roqueforts, Monts-d’Or, Neufchâtels, of this world. Sumptuous and delectable. I certainly belong to that group, and if I could only put one update for this book, it would be this glorious passage. But then, I am a lacto-addict.And even if the book first pays attention to the vegetables, it may be of interest to leave that section to read at the end. I always liked the French custom of eating salad at the end of meals. I don’t know why Zola did not follow this commendable habit here. No matter, his vegetables sparkle like colourful jewels.But not everything is the food. There is history too. Although I have read a fair amount of Zola in the past, for its literary appeal, I was now drawn for its documentary value. And I have not been disappointed. This novel can be read as an intense social, economic and political document.Although published in 1873, when France had installed the Third Republic, the novel is set in the early years of the Second Empire when the population of Paris had doubled in just a few decades. This was the time of the Haussmannization of the city, and amongst other projects, the Central Market of Paris was rebuilt in a structure of glass and steel pavilions to accommodate the provisioning of the city. Balzac had already been fascinated by the logistics required for the supply of food for the daily consumption of Parisians. And Zola followed Balzac’s steps in this too. Reading his Ventre de Paris one feels the compulsion to google all kinds of data relating to Les Halles of Victor Baltard (1805-1974).But what fascinated me the most during this read was Zola’s exploration of the nature of substantiality and his blurring of the borderline separating the human from the material. In some of his descriptions there is a symbiosis between the individual and the corporeality of her/his world that goes beyond anthropomorphism. Inevitably, I had to think of Arcimboldo’s fantasies..For there is something Surreal in Zola’s Naturalism.

  • Edward
    2019-03-13 12:20

    IntroductionTranslator's NoteSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Émile Zola--The Belly of ParisExplanatory Notes

  • Teresa
    2019-03-14 09:12

    Zola gives us both sides of the famous food markets in Paris, the sublime to the disgusting, and sometimes in the space of one sentence of his flowing prose. The descriptive passages are so visual they are like viewing paintings. At times they seem to almost literally soar: at the start of one chapter I felt as if I were flying above the rooftops of the city. The vendors seem to become what they sell, from fish to flowers. I was reminded of Dickens at several points, and Balzac at another.As much as I liked this novel, I felt its central conceit fell flat by the end.

  • Alice Poon
    2019-03-20 11:24

    I’m not going to lie: I was on the verge of giving up when I reached Chapter Three. The revolting description of the putrid smells of the Central Markets (present-day Les Halles), while evincing Zola’s extraordinary keen observation of details and his skills with words, was a major turn-off. I think I will avoid eating cheese for a long time to come.Notwithstanding, I did slog along to reach Chapter Five, whence the action started to pick up steam, and by the time I finished the novel, tears filled my eyes. In the final analysis, I have to admit that I still liked Zola’s use of symbolism that is heavily laced with satire, especially in his tongue-in-cheek depiction of the hypocrisy of the haves (“the fat”) towards the have-nots (“the thin”) (like Beautiful Lisa’s initial superficial warmth towards Scraggy Florent, which then turns to bitter alienation when her self interest is threatened), of the envious tendencies of the wannabe haves (like the jealous malice of the gossipy and greedy Mademoiselle Saget, Madame Lecoeur, La Sarriet and Madame Mehudin), and of the invincible driving force of materialism in a bourgeois society in general (like the markets being symbolized as the “glutted, digesting beast of Paris, wallowing in its fat and silently upholding the Empire”). It seems to me that somewhere beneath all the stomach-turning descriptive lexicon, Zola wants to express just one thought in this novel, which is what the painter Claude says in exclamation at the very end: “What blackguards respectable people are!”In a less serious note, the novel does offer some interesting tidbits about Paris in the early days of the Second Empire. One of these was a practice where bijoutiers peddled leftover food scraps from the large restaurants, the royal households and state ministries to the underprivileged class for a few sous per portion. Another was that the fattening of pigeons was done by specially trained laborers called gaveurs, whose job was to force-feed the pigeons.

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2019-03-21 15:13

    Zola leaves us with a timeless description of Les Halles as it was before the current 20y construction mess that it has become. For several centuries, this area in the center of Paris was a thriving marketplace for all Parisians and this novel was a magnificent tribute to the various people that made their living here - both for good and for not so good purposes. It is an unforgettable story and for me perhaps the best book that Zola wrote.

  • Xenia Germeni
    2019-03-04 16:19

    Είναι αυτη η πίκρα που μένει ανάμεσα στα λαχανικα, τα λουλουδια, την αθωοτητα, τα ψαρια, τα κρεατα, τα πουλερικα....και τους νικητές Χοντρους και άδικα ηττημένους Αδύνατους...Η ανθρώπινη μικρότητα σε όλο το μεγαλείο της, η πολιτικη, η επανάσταση, το ψεμα...ολα ζωντατευουν για χαρη του αναγνώστη μεσα από ζωντανους ζωγραφικους πινακες λεξεων, "πηγμένους" σε λεπτομέρειες προσωπων, ρουχων, χαρακτήρων, οσμών, γεύσεων, χρωμάτων....τόσο δυνατο που στο τελος μένεις με ένα γιατί...αλλά ακόμη και σήμερα λέμε το ίδιο γιατί και όλα απλώς συνεχίζουν...ΥΓ Εαν σου αρεσει το φαγητο διαβασε το!

  • Greg Brozeit
    2019-03-09 16:30

    Florent Quenu “espoused an ideal of pure virtue and sought refuge in a world of absolute truth and justice” and “became a republican, entering the realm of republican ideals as girls with broken hearts enter a convent; and unable to find a republic where sufficient peace and kindness prevailed to soothe his troubled mind, he created one of his own.” His delusional, Christ-like (his brother being his only disciple) naiveté feeds and nurtures the petty intrigue of the families who inhabit the Parisian food market, Les Halles. The result is one of Zola’s more masterful stories filled with intricate subplots that cause the reader to have ever-changing allegiances and impressions about the characters.Zola was a master of descriptive writing. In The Belly of Paris he creates scenes that the reader can see, feel, taste and, most impressively, smell the market, all of which are integral to the story. As in many of his stories, hypocritical, vicious gossip drives the narrative. The highlight in this novel is a scene in which Zola intertwines the voices of the women at the market with the stench of the cheeses surrounding them as their chattering sets off the events leading to a tragic, almost inevitable, conclusion. As the “great explosion of smells“ combined, “[t]he stench rose and spread, no longer a collection of individual smells, but a huge, sickening mixture. It seemed for a moment that it was the vile words of Madame Lecœur and Mademoiselle Saget that had produced this dreadful odour.”Unlike many of the other novels I’ve read in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, the first part of the story is filled with sympathetic characters. Reading on, it was like a being in a constant, unbalanced state and compelled me to keep reading. The Belly of Paris would be a great starting point for anyone interested in learning about Zola’s writing.

  • César Lasso
    2019-03-10 15:33

    El vientre de París es el hoy desaparecido Mercado Central de París o mercado de Les Halles que se construyó durante el Segundo Imperio francés. El escritor Zola nos lo describe con todo lujo de detalles y profusión de productos. Las verduleras, pescaderas, salchicheras, etc. son protagonistas absolutas junto con los innumerables artículos que venden. Parece que Francia en el momento de la trama atravesaba una ola de prosperidad burguesa. Es el triunfo de la comida, de las digestiones pesadas, del colesterol (aunque entonces aún no se llamase así), de la gordura ostentosa. Pero en ese fondo de prosperidad los valores humanos no han avanzado. La novela es escenario de envidias, rivalidades, cotilleos para derribar la reputación de los vecinos, y el protagonista, un hombre bueno, excesivamente bueno hasta el punto de la estupidez, acabará siendo engullido por ese mercado.Todo un clásico.

  • Sue
    2019-03-18 10:15

    The Belly of Paris is an unusual literary feat, a seeming polemic with a virtually hidden message. In prose that describes the food markets of the city in glorious (and sometimes squalid) detail, Zola introduces us to this specialized world that feeds the rich and poor of the capital city. These descriptions are beautifully written and even the squalid details are often metaphorically lovely. Beneath that surface, however, is the battle of the "Fats" and "Thins" (also an alternate title of the book). These are not simply to be taken as haves and have-nots. It's more complicated than that. The fat are somehow more acceptable, more successful, even if not financially so. To be thin is to be suspect.To this milieu returns Florent Quenu, a Parisian wrongly imprisoned and exiled to Devil's Island. He has escaped and now is back, but for what purpose? The people of Les Halles, the produce market, live on gossip, spreading stories whether true or false. The government sits in the background, watching all, making plans.There were times when I became impatient with Zola's concentration on seemingly endless description over character and/or plot. But, admittedly, these descriptions were beautifully wrought. And, in the end, I found that they served a purpose toward the overall end. There was a message about the fruits of excess and the role of the state, not the message I might like but amazingly modern. And perhaps his technique mirrored that excess.I will readmore of Zola in the future.

  • Luís C.
    2019-03-11 14:14

    I quote:“…… these precious colours, toned and softened by the waves—the iridescent flesh-tints of the shell-fish, the opal of the whiting, the pearly nacre of the mackerel, the ruddy gold of the mullets, the plated skins of the herrings, and the massive silver of the salmon. It was as though the jewel-cases of some sea-nymph had been emptied there—a mass of fantastical, undreamt-of ornaments, a streaming and heaping of necklaces, monstrous bracelets, gigantic brooches, barbaric gems and jewels, the use of which could not be divined.”I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but I can say that I really appreciated the writing, and by the end of the novel I felt like a glutton myself for having been exposed to so much food.

  • amy
    2019-02-28 13:41

    (first of all, this cover is CRAP)I wrote some of my thesis about this book (!!!), in part on the imagery of smells in the sections describing Les Halles (Parisian central marketplace built in the mid-19th century). Zola writes incredible, wonderful, sometimes overpoweringly detailed and evocative portraits of the market goods, from silvery fish to pungent cheeses to flowers to fruit to meat to...there is a lot. In contrast with the main character Florent's physical/emotional leanness and constant hunger, in the marketplace bounty, fecundity, and aggressive overabundance carry the day. The air is full of battling smells, raucous voices, flying rumors, and sexual tension. It's easy to emerge from one of Zola's descriptive bouts with a faint nausea and the inclination to lie down for a while with some ginger tea and a cold compress.

  • Louis
    2019-02-18 09:28

    The more Zola I read the more I just simply love his stories.I am seriously contemplating reading them in French just to see what its like in the original language.This 3rd installment of 20 in the Rougon-Macquart family saga.His descriptiveness reaches new heights in this book.I felt I was walking through "Les Halles" market with every sentence I read.This is what classic literature is all about.

  • Ce Ce
    2019-03-17 14:17

    Paintbrush with oil paint on a classical palette, Hedda GjerpenAlso known as 'The Fat and the Thin'*Zola painted in words the Paris food market of Les Halles in the mid 19th century. I found his eloquent passages intoxicating...lapping them up like a purring cat with a bowl of cream...(oh, oh...that skews me to the chubby side)! I felt I was the paint at the end of the brush...lush & creamy...enjoying each stroke no matter what was being rendered whether it could be labeled ugly or beautiful. I missed not a word. I found the plot an afterthought to that. I kept an eye on it...but it did not compel my reading.The politics I thought were thin. There seemed a naivete in the characterization of the fat & thin. There were no real power brokers in the cast of characters...a shopkeeper, the market people, the street urchins, a tavern owner...the fishwives...the dissidents...the paper doll men. All were sometimes farcically, sometimes tragically, one in the machinations of power. A tale of divide and conquer.The descriptive was the ingenuity of this book...the opera of human interaction, the symphony of sound, the cacophony of smells...painted so deftly & delicately & democratically. The character of Les Halles was a living breathing structure...the belly of Paris...but also the beating heart.*I recommend this Oxford edition and Brian Nelson's translation. Vizetelly, a contemporary and friend of Zola's translated Le Ventre de Paris and titled it "The Fat and the Thin"...but altered it with Victorian sensitivity.

  • Andy
    2019-02-21 14:30

    A tale of two brothers: a revolutionary escaped from prison and his simpleton brother who blissfully butchers meat. Which one benefits the public more, the political martyr or the epicurean? That's the question Emile Zola poses in "The Belly of Paris", an outrageous, disturbing satire.The showstopper of the book, however, is Florent’s recollection of escaping Devil’s Island told in a hot, suffocating basement while blood sausages are being made, to a small child in fairy tale fashion but sounding more like some ungodly confessional in Hell.

  • Victoria
    2019-03-14 11:26

    How do I begin to describe the feelings this book left me…. *BURP*I felt as though I gorged myself on 100 pounds of chocolate bacon and swallowed it down with 10 gallons of SICKLY sweet wine and afterwards swallowed an entire Tiramisu cake in one bite. It left me feeling fully satiated and yet I am still starving to discover more about the mysterious world of Old Paris. I had to work at finishing this novel, as I felt my belly was full to the brim of descriptions of food and yet I couldn’t peel myself away anyhow. You know when you continue to eat after you are full because the meal tastes so good? This is what will occur here.I found myself constantly pausing to scour the internet for recipes to these Parisian foods. I ended up discovering and growing fond of Blood sausage. This story lacks any real action, this is more of a character development, with overly lush descriptions of FOOD, of course, and also a beautiful city and the people who worked at the market. You felt starving in the beginning, to the effect that it lead you to feel dizzy. There was a small growing plot that was kind of an undertone and not the primary focus… I felt I was too distracted by descriptions to care about a plot. You felt a strong loathing for the FAT characters, and routed for the skinny underground folks to gain any sort of prosperity- although they seemed to despise it anyhow. There was a beautiful story of 2 “street-children” that grew up together that really tugged at my heartstrings. They made the underground world of the poor underprivileged seem almost mystical and free from all constraints, yet you wanted to take them both under your wing and raise them proper. I left off a star because I grew a bit frustrated and bored there in the middle, desiring some sort of strong action or plot… I will definitely not re-read this, as my belly is full to the brim and the smell of food now disgusts me… LOLHowever!! I have now grown quite fond of the writer and will read more of his works- “Nana” is next on my list.

  • Cristina Ermac
    2019-02-28 17:38

    Prima carte finisata in acest an, a doua mea intalnire cu Zola. Sunt carti pe care le indragesti pentru continut, pentru emoțiile care ti le trezesc sau pentru deznodământul neasteptat. Si sunt carti, autorii cărora te vrajesc prin stilul lor nemaipomenit de frumos de a scrie. Cărțile lui Zola, cel putin pentru mine, fac parte din a doua categorie. Sunt acele carti pentru care am nevoie de liniste si o atmosfera ambianta ca sa le citesc si sa pot sa le savurez din plin. In viziunea mea, Zola, e scriitorul care stie cel mai bine sa aleagă si sa plaseze in asa fel cuvintele încât sa ti se creeze impresia ca ele dansează pe pagina, iar descrierile lui sa te teleporteze exact in locul unde are loc acțiunea. Citind "Pantecele Parisului" am simtit si mirosul de mezeluri din hale, si mirosul pestelui care se imbiba in hainele si viata lui Florent, aroma proaspătă a florilor care le vindea tanara Cadine, si cea a zarzavaturilor proaspete de la doamna Francois care parca inca mai aveau viata in ele. Viața mea parca a prins la mai multe culori. Zola, asteapta-ma, caci voi reveni neaparat la inca o capodoperă a ta. :)

  • Eve Kay
    2019-03-12 13:21

    The main character Florent is my kinda people politically. He's active and I guess a revolutionary. He brings alot of the action into the book with his believes and everything he has gone through, also, the fishermen wives have it in for him but in that part he was very much inactive and those women walked all over him.That was some great story development though!Anyone who has read it can tell you that the ending is one of the best ever. "Those bastards!" That had me smiling for a while after finishing. You can see the ending miles away but that's so not the point, it's the writing and every character's point of view on it that's the point. Kind of concluding each character's story sort of.Zola emphasizes in this book how life goes on and everyone goes about their business no matter what happens around them. It will inevitably always be so.

  • Scarlett
    2019-03-13 12:15

    Da mi je neko rekao da ću bez problema uživati u opisima povrća, cveća, putera, mesa i ribe, stvarno ne znam šta bih mu odgovorila. Ovu knjigu sam ostavila za kraj serijala, jer sam svuda viđala komentare da je ovde Zola deskripciju doveo do maksimuma i savršenstva. Potpuno se slažem sa tim, a za kompletno uživanje u romanu, ipak mi je nedostajao malo čvršći kostur priče. Doduše, na nekim mestima, Zola me je oduvao sposobnošću da dočara rečima sliku koju je on video, osećala sam da ni najmanji detalj nije propustio."Trbuh Pariza" je simbolični glavni junak priče, u pitanju je ogromna pijaca, veliki građevinski projekat s početka 19. veka odakle se sva hrana "širila" u ostale "udove" grada. Pored ovog, postoji i drugi naslov romana "Debeli i mršavi", koji olakšava shvatanje Zoline poruke. Njegove romane iz ovog serijala odlikuje to da pored porodice Rugon-Makar, mi pratimo i uticaj države na razne društvene slojeve. Ovde niži srednji sloj slepo podržava sve što car i država rade, sve dok su oni "debeli i srećni". U svojim malim svađama, Debeli pokušavaju da "progutaju" mršave otvaranjem novih prodavnica, osvajanjem bolje hrane na licitaciji, a čak se Debeli i nelagodno osećaju u prisustvu Mršavih koji ih svojim upalim obrazima podsećaju na strašnu sudbinu i bolest. Zola je za izradu ovog romana provodio nebrojeno mnogo sati i dana na pijaci Les Halles, koja je, nažalost, srušena krajem 20. veka. Njegovi opisi cveća, čiji miris ostaje u odeći i na telu satima posle šetnje pored tezgi, zaista su neverovatni. Kontrast čine tezge sa ribom čije prodavačice, pored mirisa koji uvek nose sa sobom, i same deluju agresivno i "bore se za vazduh". Nisam nikad više opisa povrća videla u životu, tako da ko voli da čita o kupusu, rotkvicama i paradajzu, ovde će to naći na bar 30 stranica. On na isti način opisuje i ljude, žene koje pucaju od zdravlja i čiji se prosperitet vidi u velikim grudima, širokom struku i jakom vratu, na pijaci su prava sila prirode. Jedan od nosilaca priče, mršavi Floren, stalno je u strahu od njih i on je jedini koga ova pijaca i neumereno uživanje u hrani plaše i gade. Njegova nesklonost hrani i ostavljanje punog tanjira neke ljude čak okreće i protiv njega. Od porodice Makar, tu je Lisa, ćerka Antoana Makara. Iako članove te nelegitimne strane Zola uglavnom opisuje kao gramzive, pohotne, lenje i divlje, Lisa je odlična kontrateža toj negativnosti. Ona je promoćurna i racionalna. Dobra je sve dok nešto ne ugrozi njenu finansijsku dobrobit i dobar glas njene prodavnice, tu postaje beskrupulozna. Zanimljivo je upoređivati je sa njenim ocem i sestrom Žervezom, glavnom junakinjom "Trovačnice" (jedan od najjačih Zolinih romana). Pored njih, u ovom romanu se pojavljuju i junaci ostalih delova serijala (što je vrlo nekarakteristično za Zolu, uglavnom ih izokola pominje), tu je slikar Klod Lantije, nesrećni slikar iz "Dela", pominje se Sakar iz "Kaljuge" i "Novca", a Lisina ćerka biće glavna junakinja romana "Radost života". Time je zaokružen Lisin položaj na ovom razgranatom porodičnom stablu. Nije lako čitati ovaj roman, ili sam ogladnela od opisa, pa pravila pauzu za užinu, ili sam bila zgađena, osećala mučninu pred mirisima i ukusima o kojima čitam. Takođe, opisa je stvaaarno mnogo, jedino što me je vuklo dalje jeste njihova živopisnost. Sama radnja i zaplet nisu baš na nivou ranijih romana, očekivala sam nešto dramatičnije, s obzirom na građenje priče na preko 300 strana, ali finale je bilo skoro neprimetno. Ipak, ja sam odavno već Zolu uvrstila u svojih top 3 pisaca bez premca, tako da preporučujem ovaj roman svakako.

  • Manray9
    2019-02-20 09:26

    Emile Zola’s The Belly of Paris is the third novel of his epic Les Rougon-Macquart cycle. I thought long about how best to sum up the novel, but concluded Brian Nelson’s excellent introduction could not be surpassed. He wrote:"…The Belly of Paris (has) a high degree of ideological ambiguity. There is no equivocation, however, in Zola’s satirical critique of the bourgeoisie and the ‘high’ capitalism of the Second Empire. The last words of the novel – Claude’s exclamation ‘Respectable people…What bastards!’ – deplore the triumph of the ‘Fat’. Beneath the outward ‘respectability’ of the bourgeoisie there is a venality and brutality that Zola portrays as monstrous. Marjolin, the young woman in the pink bonnet, and above all, Florent are sacrificed on the altar of bourgeois greed.” The Belly of Paris holds many lessons applicable to our times. Read it and you may see the same story transferred to New York or Houston in 2013 – as Professor Nelson noted “the bourgeois triumph repeatedly over the workers; political idealism goes nowhere.” Just replace “bourgeois” with “job creators” and “workers” with “takers” and the statement is relevant today.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-02-26 17:31

    Otherwise titled "Obsessed with Vegetables" Zola proves his point that there is a great divide between the high and low status quo through the discussion of food and its mongers. French society seems to have always been based on cuisine. The era of the French Revolution is no different. What's stunning is the grade of filth, rot, and stench related to it. Poor health, fetid atmosphere, mangy animals are all consequences. Politics, of course, are discussed over evening soup. "Scum dislike the emperor", but the emperor doesn't seem to improve life. Of the handful of Zola novels I have read, I've enjoyed this one the least. It may be because I'm fortunate enough not to be able to relate, although I adore the idea of little cobbled streets with tiny shops to buy my fare.

  • J.
    2019-02-25 13:32

    Zola seems to have borrowed a kind of effect, from poetry, with this effort: there are large technicolor blocks of description here, monumental scenic prose-backdrops, illustrated right down to the feel of the grit on the sidewalk. Sense of place is everything here. There is barely room to wedge the particulars of character and story into the gaps between atmosphere & scene... And like the painters of his era, he's also intrigued at the gradations wrought by time of day and weather change; at the way the Light rewrites the story, every bit as much as a plot change will. Take the fish market of Les Halles, for example :“…..When the baskets had been set out, it looked to Florent as if a shoal of fish had run aground on the pavement, still quivering, in pearly pink, milky white, and bloody coral, all the soft, sheeny hues of the sea. The seaweed that lies on the ocean bed where the mysteries of the deep lie sleeping had jumbled everything into the sweep of the net: cod, haddock, flounder, plaice, dabs, and other sorts of common fish in dirty grey spotted with white; conger eels, huge snake-like creatures with small, black eyes and muddy bluish skins, so slimy that they seemed to be still alive and gliding along; broad flat skate, their pale underbellies edged with a soft red, their superb backs, bumpy with vertebrae, marbled to the very tips of the bones in their fins, in sulphur-red patches cut across by stripes of Florentine bronze, a somber assortment of colours from filthy toad to poisonous flower; dogfish, with hideous round heads, gaping mouths like Chinese idols, and short fins like bats’ wings, monsters who doubtless kept guard over the treasures of the ocean grottoes. Then there were the finer fish, displayed individually on wicker trays: salmon, gleaming like chased silver, whose very scale seemed to have been exquisitely chiseled on highly polished metal; mullet, with larger scales and coarser markings; huge turbot and brill, their scales pure white and closely knit like curdled milk; tuna fish, smooth and glossy, like bags of black leather; and rounded bass, with gaping mouths, as if some outsize spirit, at the moment of death, had forced its way out of the surprised creatures’ bodies. Everywhere there were soles, grey or pale yellow, heaped in pairs; sand eels, thin and stiff, like shavings of pewter; herrings, slightly twisted, with bleeding gills showing on their silver-worked skins; fat bream, tinged with crimson; golden mackerel, their backs stained with greenish brown markings, their sides shimmering like mother-of-pearl; and pink gurnet with white bellies, placed with their heads together in the middle of the baskets and their tails fanned out, so that they seemed like strange flowers, in a bloom of pearly white and brilliant scarlet." ..... Emile Zola 1873Only one installment of Zola's grand project Les Rougon-Macquart, "The Belly Of Paris" is a walk-thru history in lots of ways. And a strikingly visceral presentation of Les Halles in Paris in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century, pulsing with tradition but lunging toward the Modern with every day that passes. [A footnote here is the film Le Sang des Bêtes which cinematically renders much the same territory some seventy-five years later; it is impossible to believe that director Georges Franju was not channeling Zola when he filmed this record in 1949. A must-see, on the level of L'Age d'Or or Entr'acte, in this viewer's opinion.] Do both-- see The Blood Of The Beasts and read the Zola ... bon appetit.

  • Kezia
    2019-03-06 14:27

    Pauvre Florent. A falsely accused escapee from French Guiana arrives home a much changed man - to a much changed Paris. It's Zola's third book and easy to see how this laid the foundation for his future works of art. While this book in no way compares to Nana, L'Assomoir, Germinal, or his other masterpieces, it is loaded with wonderful symbolism related to food and justice. Les Halles itself represents the gastronomic center of Europe, therefore the world. A character's description of local residents as either "fat" (bourgeois, complacent) or "thin" (needy, revolutionary) again ties the theme together. Zola's descriptions of the lavish foods produced and sold in the neighborhood call to mind the aristocracy's gluttony and greed during the Second Empire. (Zola himself was quite a big eater, apparently.)Instead of fat versus thin, Zola could have just as easily divided his characters into those who exploit animals for profit, and those who don't. (Florent actually swoons when he witnesses pigeons being slaughtered for the poultry dealer.) Zola's butchers, fishwives, and butter/cheese merchants are universally unsympathetic. Those who make their livings in fruits, vegetables, or flowers are idealized - such as Mme Francois who rescues Florent in the opening pages. It's again quite symbolic that characters who will so thoughtlessly kill and gut a fish, or make sausages out of animal blood, would think little of killing, gutting, and making sausage of their fellow man. I just encountered this quote from Zola, which I find interesting in the context of this analysis: “The fate of animals is of greater importance to me than the fear of appearing ridiculous.”For all Zola's beliefs in justice, and his progressive politics, it's important to keep in mind he is a "naturalist"/realist. Therefore there's little justice in his novels, and Ventre de Paris is no exception. Pauvre Florent.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-10 12:34

    ebox readoncomp. 'Sumatra reader' does not allow copy/paste/highlighting *sob*This story of the fat and the thin opens with:THROUGH the deep silence of the desrted avenue, the carts made their way towards Paris, the rythmic jolting of the wheels echoing against the sleeping fronts of the houses on both sides of the road, behind the dim shapes of elms.- Florent - the down and out found on the road- Balthasar - the horse that didn't trample him- Madame Francois - the owner of the horse that didn't trample on the down and out.4* The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11) 5* Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13) WL Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9) TBR Thérèse Raquin CR The Belly of Paris (Les Rougon-Macquart, #3) TBR The Fortune of the Rougons (Les Rougon-Macquart, #1) GUARDIAN 06.11.2013: Rising homelessness in Paris: does it have the most rough sleepers of the big European capitals?

  • Erma Odrach
    2019-02-27 09:19

    I love Zola because he's always so much a part of his time, and so ready to describe life in Paris, and with such detail! When innocent Florent Quenu escapes from prison on Devil's Island, he returns to his native Paris, to Les Halles marketplace, where the poor, downtrodden struggle to survive. From page one, the reader feels as if he/she is right there in the heart of it all, smelling, tasting, hearing all that the mid-19th Century marketplace has to offer. The pictures are quite vivid, "...red bouquets of carrots, white bouquets of turnips, or the bursting greenery of peas and cabbages." And if you're a cheese lover, there are two pages dedicated just to cheese. This is a book where not only food and politics mix but where the gap between rich and poor forever widens.

  • Paul Servini
    2019-03-21 15:27

    Il faut lire ce livre des yeux et non de l'esprit. C'est un magnifique tableau impressionniste de la vie quotidienne des Halles. Mais en tant que roman il laisse à désirer à mon avis. L'intrigue est assez plat, et les personnages n'évoluent guère à travers le livre. Mais, et il faut le dire et le redire, la qualité des description est inégalée. This book should be read with the eyes and not with the mind. It is a magnificent, impressionist picture of daily life in 'Les Halles'. But as a novel, I felt it lacked something. The storyline is quite flat and the characters scarcely evolve throughout the book. But, and I cannot emphasise this enough, the quality of the descriptions remain unsurpassed.

  • Oisín
    2019-03-13 16:24

    "Respectable people... what bastards!"

  • lyell bark
    2019-02-28 15:15

    i as a huge fat slob appreciate a fat positive novel in these fat-shaming times.

  • Sam
    2019-03-12 17:11

    I was so happy to finish this piece of Zola's Rougon-Macquart epic as quickly as I usually tear through his books, especially because I'm having so much trouble getting through La Fortune des Rougon. This is no l'Assommoir or Nana, but Le Ventre de Paris falls nicely in place within the series, almost as an aside. It's almost as if this book's purpose was to let Zola stretch his wings as nothing more than a typical novelist, a break from the intense tragedies he usually describes so vividly, a sort of writer's workshop. Not that le Ventre de Paris isn't a tragedy--it's just tragic on a less soul-crushing level than the rest of the series so far.The plot is loosely woven between rambling descriptors to bait each of the five senses, rivaled only by Huysmans in sheer excess. The reader feels like a goose being fattened to be made into foie gras, force-fed words that seem fulfilling at first, yet which quickly become overwhelming in their richness. Also like Huysmans, the intent seems to be exactly that: to describe things with such detail as to completely overwhelm one's senses, emphasizing and effectively mimicking the brutally uncomfortable feeling of overindulgence.The descriptions of Les Halles, Paris' central market, leave absolutely nothing to the imagination--this passage describes the window display of the Quenu-Gradelle charcuterie, where the protagonist, Florent Quenu, is first saved and ultimately doomed:"Here and there fern-leaves, tastefully disposed, changed the plates which they encircled into bouquets fringed with foliage. There was a wealth of rich, luscious, melting things. Down below, quite close to the window, jars of preserved sausage-meat were interspersed with pots of mustard. Above these were some small, plump, boned hams, golden with their dressings of toasted bread-crumbs, and adorned at the knuckles with green rosettes. Next came the larger dishes, some containing preserved Strasbourg tongues, enclosed in bladders coloured a bright red and varnished, so that they looked quite sanguineous beside the pale sausages and trotters; then there were black-puddings coiled like harmless snakes, healthy looking chitterlings piled up two by two; Lyons sausages in little silver copes that made them look like choristers; hot pies, with little banner-like tickets stuck in them; big hams, and great glazed joints of veal and pork, whose jelly was as limpid as sugar-candy. In the rear were other dishes and earthen pans in which meat, minced and sliced, slumbered beneath lakes of melted fat. And betwixt the various plates and dishes, jars and bottles of sauce, culis, stock and preserved truffles, pans of foie gras and boxes of sardines and tunny-fish were strewn over the bed of paper shavings. A box of creamy cheeses, and one of edible snails, the apertures of whose shells were dressed with butter and parsley, had been placed carelessly at either corner. Finally, from a bar overhead strings of sausages and saveloys of various sizes hung down symmetrically like cords and tassels; while in the rear fragments of intestinal membranes showed like lacework, like some guipure of white flesh. And on the highest tier in this sanctuary of gluttony, amidst the membranes and between two bouquets of purple gladioli, the window stand was crowned by a small square aquarium, ornamented with rock-work, and containing a couple of gold-fish, which were continually swimming round it." It's simultaneously revolting and intriguing, and the reader digests it as ravenously as Florent, who is nearly starved to death as he takes this all in. Most of the intensely descriptive parts involve market scenes, and Zola uses them brilliantly to illustrate his point about "the fat and the thin," or the rich and the poor.Another passage describes the window of a jewelry store in the eyes of a market girl:"In the evenings she would dazzle herself with the displays in the windows of the big jewellers in the Rue Montmartre. That terrible street deafened her with its ceaseless flow of vehicles, and the streaming crowd never ceased to jostle her; still she did not stir, but remained feasting her eyes on the blazing splendour set out in the light of the reflecting lamps which hung outside the windows. On one side all was white with the bright glitter of silver: watches in rows, chains hanging, spoons and forks laid crossways, cups, snuff-boxes, napkin-rings, and combs arranged on shelves. The silver thimbles, dotting a porcelain stand covered with a glass shade, had an especial attraction for her. Then on the other side the windows glistened with the tawny glow of gold. A cascade of long pendant chains descended from above, rippling with ruddy gleams; small ladies' watches, with the backs of their cases displayed, sparkled like fallen stars; wedding rings clustered round slender rods; bracelets, broaches, and other costly ornaments glittered on the black velvet linings of their cases; jewelled rings set their stands aglow with blue, green, yellow, and violet flamelets; while on every tier of the shelves superposed rows of earrings and crosses and lockets hung against the crystal like the rich fringes of altar-cloths. The glow of this gold illumined the street half way across with a sun-like radiance. And Cadine, as she gazed at it, almost fancied that she was in the presence of something holy, or on the threshold of the Emperor's treasure chamber." Le Ventre de Paris is a collection of indulgences, and in the backdrop a harmless, idealistic revolutionary is so blinded by this excess that he doesn't notice the backstabbing, greedy, ravenous vultures circling around him throughout the entire book (until it's too late, of course).

  • Faith
    2019-03-03 13:14

    This book had too much description for me. A lot if it read like the recitation of an inventory of a food market. I was a third of the way in and there still wasn't a plot, so I gave up.

  • Laura
    2019-03-02 14:37

    This is the third book of the saga of Les Rougon-Macquart which was published in 1873. This book is preceded by La Curee and it is followed byLa Conquete de Plaissans. The fist English translation to English was made in 1888, under the title ofThe Fat and the Thin.For more than 800 years, Les halls was the “stomach” of Paris. In this book, Zola makes use of the “style image” - a figurative style, decorated with images and metaphors. This is what marks the most writing Zola in the Belly of Paris. Moreover, we can clearly see by the choice of the title of the work that can be read as a metaphor of the belly.The general idea can be found in the Preface:Le ventre-le ventre de Paris, les Halles où la nourriture afflue, pour rayonner sur les quartiers divers ; -le ventre de l'humanité, et par extension la bourgeoisie digérant, cuvant en paix ses joies et ses honnêtetés moyennes.[image error] French coup of 1851. Once he was released, he fins refuge with his step-brother Quenu, a charcutier and his wife Lisa Quenu (formerly Macquart). The he became a fish inspector in Les Halles.For the first time the author has awarded and supported the beauty of the modern urban landscape in the French fiction.Through the plot, the painter Claude Lantier makes his apparition for the first time. He will return in “L’Oeuvre: (1866).Quotations:La révolution politique est faite, voyez-vous; il faut aujourd'hui songer au travailleur, à l'ouvrier; notre mouvement devra être tout social. Et je vous défie bien d'arrêter cette revendication du peuple. Le peuple est las, il veut sa part.— L'égoïsme des classes est un des soutiens les plus fermes de la tyrannie. Il est mauvais que le peuple soit égoïste. S'il nous aide, il aura sa part... Pourquoi voulez-vous que je me batte pour l'ouvrier, si l'ouvrier refuse de se battre pour moi?... Puis, la question n'est pas là. Il faut dix ans de dictature révolutionnaire, si l'on veut habituer un pays comme la France à l'exercice de la liberté.Free download available at Project Gutenberg.The English version can be found at Gutenberg Project.And the audio version in French at Literature audio.com.Interesting link:Emile Zola’s Portrait of Les Halles