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The Belly of Paris

Émile Zola & Mark Kurlansky

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Description

Part of Emile Zola’s multigenerational Rougon-Macquart saga, The Belly of Paris is the story of Florent Quenu, a wrongly accused man who escapes imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Returning to his native Paris, Florent finds a city he barely recognizes, with its working classes displaced to make way for broad boulevards and bourgeois flats. Living with his brother’s family in the newly rebuilt Les Halles market, Florent is soon caught up in a dangerous maelstrom of food and politics. Amid intrigue among the market’s sellers–the fishmonger, the charcutière, the fruit girl, and the cheese vendor–and the glorious culinary bounty of their labors, we see the dramatic difference between “fat and thin” (the rich and the poor) and how the widening gulf between them strains a city to the breaking point.

Translated and with an Introduction by the celebrated historian and food writer Mark Kurlansky, The Belly of Paris offers fascinating perspectives on the French capital during the Second Empire–and, of course, tantalizing descriptions of its sumptuous repasts.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Dec 04, 1995 – The Belly of Paris is Les Halles centrales, the enormous (21-acre) market complex built by Baron Haussmann in the 1850s. Into it flowed great rivers of vegetables, cheeses, butter, fish and meats, and out of it sewers of blood and putrefaction. In this third volume of the Rougon-Macquart series, available in the U.S. for the first time, Zola describes both with typical hypnotic exhaustiveness. Escaping from undeserved exile on Devils Island, the starving quondam scholar Florent finds the markets occasionally seductive but more often repellent. From the moment he arrives, he is caught in what his friend the artist Claude Lantier (from La Confession de Claude) calls the Battle of the Fat and the Thin being waged between the well-fed, self-satisfied petty burghers and the hungry, envious lower classes. The Fat surround Florent--his half-brother, an unimaginative pork-butcher and his conventionally moral wife (the daughter of Antoine Macquart); the fishwives whom he monitors; local shopkeepers--and all look at him suspiciously for his failure to settle into a bourgeois existence. Not that the Thin--the neighborhood gossip, the markets' weekend revolutionaries--don't cause Florent just as much trouble. Neither bitter nor complacent, Florent is an irritation that the markets tacitly move to dislodge. One of Zola's own favorites, La Ventre de Paris is a brilliant exposition of one man's fragmentation and an often painful indictment of those who live innocent of infamy or praise.
The Belly of Paris
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Classics
  • Published: May 12, 2009
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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