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

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  1,657 ratings  ·  149 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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amy
(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...more
Andy
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...more
Louis
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.
Kezia
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
Teresa
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, "...re...more
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...more
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
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...more
Sam
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
Maxine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fabien
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...more
dina
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...more
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
Yves
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...more
Brendan Hodge
Zola's The Belly of Paris deals with revolution and bourgeois morality against the backdrop of the gargantuan Paris food markets.

The main character is Florent, a former tutor who got caught up in the fighting in Paris during Napoleon III's coup which began the Second Empire (1851) and was (despite his basic harmlessness) transported to Devils Island. As the novel begins, he has escaped after many years imprisonment and returned to Paris. He's found, fainting with hunger on the road, by a market...more
Larry
OK, but not one of Zola's best. Personal and political intrigue set in Les Halles market in Paris in the 1850s. Zola is obsessed with providing very detailed descriptions of the look and smell of various foods. At one point, the story grinds to a halt while he devotes two pages to descibing the smells of various cheeses. But...Zola does immerse you in the life of ordinary people in that historic era, which makes it an interesting read.
Sam
My previous experience reading Zola was with Germinal and Therese Racquin; both excellent novels in their own right.

The Belly of Paris is the tale of an anarchist "revolutionary" who is exiled to prison but escapes and sneaks back into Paris, taking up with his brother in the food markets of Paris. Consumed by his hatred for the government, he falls in with a disorganized group of insurrectionist morons, and leads an unsuccessful attempt to bring down the government. If you've ever seen the bum...more
Marty
The Belly of Paris is one of Zola's Les Rougon-Marcquart series which tolal over 20 books. Belly of Paris does for food what his book The Ladies Paradice did for shopping. Full of food, color and smells, it is full of lust and fat. A better read of Zola is not to be found.
This is not a quick two day book as it is full of people and plots.
Don Sommers
It's true...the descriptions of Les Halles market and the lives it encompasses during the period are detailed and vivid. I get why it's considered the ultimate foodie book. And the socio-political plot gives a sense of that period in Paris in a similar way.
Lucrezia
5 stars! I have nothing else to say. In this third novel of the Rougon-Macquart series, Zola is incredible. The descriptions of The Halles and of the characters (Lisa, Florent, Quenu...) are extraordinary! In this book, we follow the history of Florent, who come back from Cayenne and meet his brother, Quenu, who is working as a "charcutier" near the Halles. Quenu is married to Lisa Macquart, that we met in La Fortune des Rougon, Antoine Macquart's daughter and Gervaise's sister. They have a daug...more
Robyn
I'm reading the English version: The Fat and the Thin. I couldn't really get through it. It was dense with description--not much on story (at least for the first 87 pages which is where I stopped.)
Richard
I should rate this higher but it took me forever to read which means I secretly was bored and didn't want to admit. It was memorable, nonetheless.
lyell bark
i as a huge fat slob appreciate a fat positive novel in these fat-shaming times.
David Taylor
Fantastic, If you love Orwell you must read Zola!!
Scot
Translated from the French by Henry Vizetelly (later revised and expurgated by his son), this was the only translation of this third work in Emile Zola’s 24 volume series entitled Les Rougon Macquart for the twentieth century, although in the last decade other translations have been done. The original French title is Le ventre de Paris (rough translation: The Belly of Paris).

Zola, interestingly enough, had been a childhood friend of Paul Cezanne—and just as French artists like Cezanne would make...more
Linda
There is a picture by Norman Rockwell called "The Gossip" which shows a woman whispering something to a friend, who whispers it to a friend...... all the way back to the original whisperer. That is one of the major themes of this book. Florent, a young Parisian gets caught up in a protest one day and after seeing the bloody mess the government made of it, tentatively becomes a rebel. He's "manning" a barricade one day when he falls asleep and is caught by the police - everyone else had the good...more
Laura
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...more
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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 40 Jan 19, 2013 05:26AM  
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4750
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
More about Émile Zola...
Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13) Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9) Thérèse Raquin L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart, #7) La Bête humaine (Les Rougon-Macquart, #17)

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“Respectable people... What bastards!” 31 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.” 5 likes
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