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Posts Tagged ‘French Literature’

This small piece contains a nice little twist ending and delights the reader in its’ comedy. Here is what the eminent George Saintsbury had to say in the Introduction:

Pierre Grassou is much slighter and smaller; it is not even on a level with Honorine or Le Colonel Chabert. But it is good in itself; it is very characteristic of its time, and it is specially happy as giving the volume a touch of comedy, which is grateful, and which makes it as a whole rather superior to most of Balzac’s volumes,— volumes apt to be ‘ fagoted’ rather than composed. The figure of the artist-bourgeois, neither Bohemian nor buveur d’eau, is excellently hit off, and the thing leaves us with all the sense of a pleasant afterpiece.

The fact that Grassou is used and ends up winning in the end is a thing that should be considered by contemporary psychologists.  For you see Grassou is portrayed, to reiterate Saintsbury, as the bourgeois artist ordinaire.  Grassou can’t paint and is told to quit but he quietly goes about his business and ends up an old master. Ha! One should read the thing to get the general effect of the twist ending.  Here is the link to it on Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=UdMTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA267&dq=pierre+grassou#PPP1,M1

The Paris of Delacroix and Ingres comes to life in the course of this short story and if I am not mistaken I believe the Louvre was still used to house artists during this period.  With the omnipresent Salon culture permeating the art world of the Bourbon Restoration, there was little room for untalented men such as Pierre Grassou.  Balzac has no couth for such men as Grassou but he plays a forgiving god and lets Monsieur Grassou make dividends on his hard work and miniscule luck.

Please read and enjoy.

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En Francais>Le Ventre de Paris

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/8vntr10.txt in French.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=32NomB4ADC4C&dq=the+belly+of+paris&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=fC-oP15_AU&sig=bNGfeYYBxos2WcWQ47HVhHGVi_M&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA248,M1 in English.

 

This episode in the Rougon-Macquart series is one of the better books I have read from Zola.  It centers on Les Halles, the central food market in Paris at the time.  It is highly class-conscious, though extremely engaging and enjoyable.  There is a brief review of it at the food blog Chocolate and Zucchini which can be seen with this link: http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/05/the_belly_of_paris.php

I would implore you to read this book, if only for your inner gourmand.

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