Exceptional Excerpts: The Belly of Paris #3 by Émile Zola

There are so many wonderful passages in Le Ventre de Paris that I am joining Jonathan and posting an excerpt. This is only part of the lengthy, but interesting, description of Gavard. It appears early in the second fifth of the book. The translation, by Ernest Alfred Vizetelly,  is titled The Fat and the Thin, and is available free from Project Gutenberg.

Fat-and-the-Thin_Aegypan_GR02

 

As he was in the habit of visiting the Quenu-Gradelles almost daily, he determined to take up his residence nearer to them, and came to live in the Rue de la Cossonnerie. The neighbouring markets, with their noisy uproar and endless chatter, quite fascinated him; and he decided to hire a stall in the poultry pavilion, just for the purpose of amusing himself and occupying his idle hours with all the gossip. Thenceforth he lived amidst ceaselesstittle-tattle, acquainted with every little scandal in the neighbourhood, his head buzzing with the incessant yelping around him. He blissfully tasted a thousand titillating delights, having at last found his true element, and bathing in it, with the voluptuous pleasure of a carp swimming in the sunshine. Florent would sometimes go to see him at his stall.

And a few sentences later:

At last, in the middle of the alley, near the water-taps, he found Gavard ranting away in his shirt-sleeves, in front of his stall, with his arms crossed over the bib of his blue apron. He reigned there, in a gracious, condescending way, over a group of ten or twelve women. He was the only male dealer in that part of the market. He was so fond of wagging his tongue that he had quarrelled with five or six girls whom he had successively engaged to attend to his stall, and had now made up his mind to sell his goods himself, naively explaining that the silly women spent the whole blessed day in gossiping, and that it was beyond his power to manage them.

 

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6 comments on “Exceptional Excerpts: The Belly of Paris #3 by Émile Zola

  1. Jonathan says:

    It’s tempting to just quote the whole book, isn’t it? 🙂

    Just the other day I was thinking of re-reading one of the R-M books. This would be a contender…but a new translation of The Earth is out soon….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BookerTalk says:

    I have this one to read so your extract just gives me a little flavour of what to expect. Love that similie of the carp swimming

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa Hill says:

    Hi Jonathan, I have the new translation of Earth by my bedside! I was ready to read Earth last year but when OUP said they had a new translation coming I decided to wait because it’s by Brian Nelson who is my all time favourite Zola translator.

    Like

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