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The Belly of Paris (Les Rougon-Macquart #3)

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,127 ratings  ·  171 reviews
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 ...more
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Published May 12th 2009 by Modern Library (first published 1873)
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The cover of this novel should come with a warning. Well, may be not even just a warning, for it should be sold with a calorie counter. I am afraid I may have put on several kilos while reading this. Perhaps it would be advisable to read it while running on the treadmill. The lush descriptions of succulent food could well activate and stimulate the production of a peculiar kind of literary enzymes which multiply by ten the energy provided by ingested food if it has been deliciously described.

Zola gives us both sides of the famous food markets in Paris, the sublime to the disgusting, and sometimes in the space of one sentence of his flowing prose. The descriptive passages are so visual they are like viewing paintings. At times they seem to almost literally soar: at the start of one chapter I felt as if I were flying above the rooftops of the city. The vendors seem to become what they sell, from fish to flowers. I was reminded of Dickens at several points, and Balzac at another.

As muc
Alice Poon

I’m not going to lie: I was on the verge of giving up when I reached Chapter Three. The revolting description of the putrid smells of the Central Markets (present-day Les Halles), while evincing Zola’s extraordinary keen observation of details and his skills with words, was a major turn-off. I think I will avoid eating cheese for a long time to come.

Notwithstanding, I did slog along to reach Chapter Five, whence the action started to pick up steam, and by the time I finished the novel, tears fil
The Belly of Paris is an unusual literary feat, a seeming polemic with a virtually hidden message. In prose that describes the food markets of the city in glorious (and sometimes squalid) detail, Zola introduces us to this specialized world that feeds the rich and poor of the capital city. These descriptions are beautifully written and even the squalid details are often metaphorically lovely.

Beneath that surface, however, is the battle of the "Fats" and "Thins" (also an alternate title of the b
(first of all, this cover is CRAP)

I wrote some of my thesis about this book (!!!), in part on the imagery of smells in the sections describing Les Halles (Parisian central marketplace built in the mid-19th century). Zola writes incredible, wonderful, sometimes overpoweringly detailed and evocative portraits of the market goods, from silvery fish to pungent cheeses to flowers to fruit to meat to...there is a lot. In contrast with the main character Florent's physical/emotional leanness and consta
Luís Blue Yorkie
If a book can be written like an impressionist painting then this novel is it. The plot itself is rather banal with its direction only becoming evident within the last few chapters, but it's the descriptions of the food in the markets that make the reading of this book so worth while.

The premise is simple—Florent, a wrongly convicted man, has escaped from Devil’s Island and returns to Paris. The opening scene has him lying close to death in the road where he is rescued by a woman on her way to L
May 10, 2011 Andy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pork lovers
Shelves: kool-imports
A tale of two brothers: a revolutionary escaped from prison and his simpleton brother who blissfully butchers meat. Which one benefits the public more, the political martyr or the epicurean? That's the question Emile Zola poses in "The Belly of Paris", an outrageous, disturbing satire.

The showstopper of the book, however, is Florent’s recollection of escaping Devil’s Island told in a hot, suffocating basement while blood sausages are being made, to a small child in fairy tale fashion but soundin
Ce Ce

Paintbrush with oil paint on a classical palette, Hedda Gjerpen

Also known as 'The Fat and the Thin'*

Zola painted in words the Paris food market of Les Halles in the mid 19th century. I found his eloquent passages intoxicating...lapping them up like a purring cat with a bowl of cream...(oh, oh...that skews me to the chubby side)! I felt I was the paint at the end of the brush...lush & creamy...enjoying each stroke no matter what was being rendered whether it could be labeled ugly or beautiful
The more Zola I read the more I just simply love his stories.I am seriously contemplating reading them in French just to see what its like in the original language.This 3rd installment of 20 in the Rougon-Macquart family saga.His descriptiveness reaches new heights in this book.I felt I was walking through "Les Halles" market with every sentence I read.This is what classic literature is all about.
Pauvre Florent. A falsely accused escapee from French Guiana arrives home a much changed man - to a much changed Paris. It's Zola's third book and easy to see how this laid the foundation for his future works of art. While this book in no way compares to Nana, L'Assomoir, Germinal, or his other masterpieces, it is loaded with wonderful symbolism related to food and justice. Les Halles itself represents the gastronomic center of Europe, therefore the world. A character's description of local resi ...more
Oct 10, 2010 J. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Omnivores
Shelves: cuisine, france, zola

Zola seems to have borrowed a kind of effect, from poetry, with this effort: there are large technicolor blocks of description here, monumental scenic prose-backdrops, illustrated right down to the feel of the grit on the sidewalk. Sense of place is everything here. There is barely room to wedge the particulars of character and story into the gaps between atmosphere & scene... And like the painters of his era, he's also intrigued at the gradations wrought by time of day and weather change; a
Paul Servini
Il faut lire ce livre des yeux et non de l'esprit. C'est un magnifique tableau impressionniste de la vie quotidienne des Halles. Mais en tant que roman il laisse à désirer à mon avis. L'intrigue est assez plat, et les personnages n'évoluent guère à travers le livre. Mais, et il faut le dire et le redire, la qualité des description est inégalée.

This book should be read with the eyes and not with the mind. It is a magnificent, impressionist picture of daily life in 'Les Halles'. But as a novel, I
The main character of this book, Florent –a man who was deported during the days that followed Louis-Napoléon's coup –who returns (illegally) to Paris after some years in exile, does not belong to the Rougon-Macquart family. But his sister-in-law, Lisa, is. When he gets to the capital he goes to Les Halles, a new and gigantic market, where his brother who has become a butcher and has a shop with his wife. They soon try to accomodate him to a confortable life-style and try to make him gain weight ...more
Erma Odrach
I love Zola because he's always so much a part of his time, and so ready to describe life in Paris, and with such detail!

When innocent Florent Quenu escapes from prison on Devil's Island, he returns to his native Paris, to Les Halles marketplace, where the poor, downtrodden struggle to survive.

From page one, the reader feels as if he/she is right there in the heart of it all, smelling, tasting, hearing all that the mid-19th Century marketplace has to offer. The pictures are quite vivid, "
Tyler Jones
This review is of Mark Kurlansky's translation into English, published in 2009 by The Modern Library. Even though I have not read any other Zola novel, let alone another translation of this book, I feel it is important to identify this edition because I suspect that Kurlansky is due a great deal of the credit for how immensely pleasurable a reading experience it was for me. Although I enjoy reading classics, I often have the feeling that I am walking through a museum, observing objects under gla ...more
As regular readers know, I’m a bit of a ‘foodie’ so I was expecting to really enjoy The Belly of Paris, (Le Ventre de Paris – also translated as The Fat and the Thin; Savage Paris; or The Markets of Paris). First published in 1873, it’s the 11th novel in the recommended reading order for Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle, and it’s set in Les Halles de Paris, the huge fresh food market in the heart of the city that was a mecca for food-lovers until it was (unwisely) demolished in 1971.

Now, I like buyi
This is the third book of the saga of Les Rougon-Macquart which was published in 1873. This book is preceded by La Curee and it is followed by La Conquete de Plaissans. The fist English translation to English was made in 1888, under the title of The Fat and the Thin.

For more than 800 years, Les halls was the “stomach” of Paris. In this book, Zola makes use of the “style image” - a figurative style, decorated with images and metaphors. This is what marks the most writing Zola in the Belly of Pa
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The story Zola offers us is a good one. The primary character, Florent, is a very sympathetic one, and I feared for him right from the start. By the midpoint, I had devised a hoped for outcome. I'll not tell you whether my fears were realized or my hopes for him fulfilled.

Zola's main English translator from Victorian times was Henry Vizetelly, whose son, Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, also enhanced or reworked many of his father's translations. I've been fine with the Vizetelly translations when that
I was so happy to finish this piece of Zola's Rougon-Macquart epic as quickly as I usually tear through his books, especially because I'm having so much trouble getting through La Fortune des Rougon. This is no l'Assommoir or Nana, but Le Ventre de Paris falls nicely in place within the series, almost as an aside. It's almost as if this book's purpose was to let Zola stretch his wings as nothing more than a typical novelist, a break from the intense tragedies he usually describes so vividly, a s ...more
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Le ventre de Paris, ou le troisième tome de la saga des Rougon-Macquart, nous fais découvrir, comme son nom l'indique, les Halles de Paris. Nous y pénétrerons en même temps que Florent, jeune homme échappé de Cayenne après y avoir été injustement déporté, pour y déambuler ensuite avec lui dans le marché aux viandes puis aux poissons.

Dans ce microcosme où rivalités, jalousie et petitesse se bouscule, Zola nous fais visiter et nous explique le fonctionnement des Halles, ce point névralgique indis
I would give it a 4.5 really, since I very much enjoyed reading it at the time, but in retrospect, I wouldn't call it a most deeply affecting book. The sensory descriptions of Les Halles and the historic narrative of the times are very good, but the main story of the confused would-be revolutionary Florent and the opposing petite bourgeois ways of his brother Quenu is lacking something like real passion... the whole thing seems very carefully and expertly researched but not actually lived. It is ...more
Sam Jasper
The Belly of Paris is sometimes published as The Fat and the Thin. This edition is translated by Vizetelly, who was the first translator of Zola that I read. He was a close friend of Zola, helping him a lot when Zola was in exile in England during the Dreyfus Affair. That said, at the time Zola's books were considered pornographic and his use of street slang and street characters was appalling to the bureaucracy that controlled book publishing. That, of course, didn't keep his books from being b ...more
Stephen Cadywold
Zola certainly did his research thoroughly though I have to agree with Sabrina: the cornucopia of description down to the minutest detail will either have you enthralled or skipping whole paragraphs to refind the action. While sometimes you may find your stomach turning, I did particularly enjoy his association of cheeses with musical instruments.

The novel follows the doomed path of the unworldly, well-meaning and naive Florent after his escape from Devil's Island and return to a changed Paris
alessandra falca
Leggere "Il Ventre di Parigi" è soprattutto un'esperienza olfattiva e uditiva. L'olfatto è senza dubbio il senso predominante: non si può non sentire il profumo della frutta, l'odore dei formaggi, l'olezzo della carne e dei vicoli di Parigi. Il fetore del mercato e il profumo dei fiori.

Uditivo perchè a prescindere dalla storia meschina che viene raccontata, il protagonista corale e assoluto rimane il chiacchericcio dei commercianti, gente comune che parla, discute e decide.
Il ventre del romanzo
Jason Reeser
This is the first book of Zola's that I have read. It helped that I had just spent time in Paris, and so I felt familiar enough with the place descriptions to really get into this story. The story itself is typical for the time period, a bit on the soap opera side of things, but what sets this apart is the nice tie-in with the food of Paris. You get a great sense of how this market town was such an important part of daily life. Those of us who go to the grocery store one a week cannot relate to ...more
J'avais essayé de lire ce roman il y a 13 ans mais j'avais arrêté parce que je le trouvais ennuyant. J'ai fait une nouvelle tentative et je dois dire que j'ai été agréablement surpris. Tout au long du livre, les description de nourriture m'ont vraiment donné faim.

Le sort de Florent est très triste. C'est une bonne personne entouré de gens hypocrite où tout tourne autour de la nourriture et de l'apparence. Il est un maigre entouré de gros. C'est ce qu'explique Claude Lantier à Florent pour lui f
Maria Thomarey
Δεν τρελάθηκα
«Чрево Парижа» можно сравнить с производственным романом. Действующие лица работают, а автор во всех деталях делится с читателем информацией. Энциклопедия жизни Франции середины XIX века — иначе охарактеризовать эту книгу не получается. Золя разбавляет описания диалогами и действиями персонажей, но всё это выглядит крайне бледно. Можно подумать, человек человеку — волк. Иных ассоциаций не возникает. Каждый персонаж пытается урвать кусок получше, заплатив за него поменьше. Изредка вперёд выходит ...more
David Miller
The Paris that we know today has changed little, with a few exceptions, since Baron Haussman's transformation of the city during the Second Empire in the mid 19th Century. One of those exceptions was the regrettable decision during President Pompidou's term in the 1970's to demolish Victor Baltard's Les Halles, the massive glass and iron and architecturally stunning market buildings in the heart of Paris.

Also known as the 'Belly of Paris', Les Halles was the setting for Zola's novel "Le Ventre
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All About Books: The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola (Gill, LauraT, Jenny) 34 37 Sep 29, 2013 05:41AM  
Zola 7 42 Jan 19, 2013 05:26AM  
  • La Bonne Table
  • The Kitchen and the Cook
  • Cousin Pons
  • Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris
  • La confession d'un enfant du siècle
  • Thérèse Desqueyroux
  • Pages from the Goncourt Journals
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
  • Lucien Leuwen
  • The Gods Will Have Blood
  • The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy (Harvest/Hbj Book)
  • Les Diaboliques
Émile François Zola was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France.

More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of 20 books collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Unlike Balzac who in the midst of his literary career resynthesized his work into La Comédie Humaine, Zola from
More about Émile Zola...

Other Books in the Series

Les Rougon-Macquart (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Fortune of the Rougons (Les Rougon-Macquart, #1)
  • La Curée (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2)
  • La Conquête de Plassans
  • La Faute de l'abbé Mouret (Les Rougon-Macquart, #5)
  • Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (Les Rougon-Macquart, #6)
  • L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart, #7)
  • Une page d'amour (Les Rougon-Macquart, #8)
  • Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9)
  • Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart, #10)
  • The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)

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“Respectable people... What bastards!” 37 likes
“A silence fell at the mention of Gavard. They all looked at each other cautiously. As they were all rather short of breath by this time, it was the camembert they could smell. This cheese, with its gamy odour, had overpowered the milder smells of the marolles and the limbourg; its power was remarkable. Every now and then, however, a slight whiff, a flute-like note, came from the parmesan, while the bries came into play with their soft, musty smell, the gentle sound, so to speak, of a damp tambourine. The livarot launched into an overwhelming reprise, and the géromé kept up the symphony with a sustained high note.” 7 likes
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