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The Belly of Paris (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – September 28, 2009
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"…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.
The central character of the novel isn't Florent, however, but the Les Halles market itself. "Like some huge central organ pumping blood into every vein of the city," the market feeds a population of two million with a massive daily flow of goods coming from all directions and distances. Vegetable-laden carts queue up on the roads leading into Paris in the pre-dawn darkness. Trains bring in cattle, cheeses and fruits; barges arrive with fresh fish. Poultry and rabbits are raised in dim cellars under the markets themselves. At the street level, stall after stall displays its goods in enticing arrays. Entire streets are devoted to different classes of products: fruits, dairy, meats, fish, etc.
Zola devotes pages to overwhelming the reader with the sounds, smells, images and feel of Les Halles. Individually the items are beautiful and often erotic. Apricots have the color of "the sunset glow on the necks of dark-haired girls just where the little hairs begin to curl.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had heard about this book for many years and am glad that I finally own it. Thanks so much!Published 14 months ago by C. A. Jenkins
Zola discrived the market as the digestive system in all its parts. And Walk us througt the lives and st.of the neighborhood with carefull detail. Masterfull.Published 18 months ago by carlos gutierrez
It's obvious that Zola excels in descriptive verbiage. There is, however, exponentially way too much of it. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Panda&PenLover
I loved Zola's descriptions of the markets in Paris. It made me want to find the beauty in everything I see. Read morePublished 20 months ago by K. Spangler
I found this on a Daily Meal website of the top 10 food books of all time. It is really wonderful and if you're into food, you'll enjoy it totally. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Midwest Lady
Rich and superbly detailed description is what really makes this book, in addition to the deliciously evocative though deeply disturbing plotline. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Robert Labrenz