The Belly of Paris; Or, The Fat and The Thin by Emile Zola
(Le Ventre de Paris)

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The third novel in Zola's twenty-volume series entitled "Les Rougon-Macquart," this story revolves around and within the 21-acre market Les Halles Centrales of Paris. The starving scholar Florent has escaped his unwarranted exile on Devil's Island, and he is alternately entranced and disgusted by his refuge in 'the belly of Paris.' Zola describes the market and Florent's experiences in the midst of it with his characteristically captivating comprehension, foreshadowing the total mastery of working-class speech in his later works. Florent makes a friend of Claude Lantier, a painter who explains the battle being waged in the vast Central Markets between the 'fat' burghers and 'thin' lower class, in which Florent is soon embroiled. He is a man caught between the fat and the thin, and this lack of allegiance leads to painful condemnation and Florent's ultimate disintegration. Presented here is the somewhat expurgated 1895 translation of Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, entitled "The Fat and the Thin".

About Emile Zola

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Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.
Published December 14, 2009 by 235 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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