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2014 Group Reads - Archives > The Kill (La Curée) - Chapter III

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments This is the thread to discuss part III of The Kill. I am honestly only halfway through, but there are questions that stir my interest.

1. Do you feel sexual tension between Renee and Maxime in the first part of the chapter?

2. For a while, I had a sensation that Renee was going to feminize Maxime, but now I am not sure about her attitude. I know that she was virtually torn by jealousy in the first chapter, so these two feelings are conflicting.

3. Robin, if you are reading the book in French, is there something missing that prudent Victorians would have rejected and would have claimed as obscene?

I will post more questions when I finish this chapter.

P.S. Zola is exceptionally brave for his time


message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2031 comments Mod
As far as the French version, there was something that struck me, it was when Renee and Maxime talk about "dirty stories" from the schools they went to. There may be others, I'll have to look up the details.

The emphasis on Maxime's femininity and hermaphroditic qualities is really stressed. Zola finds it a degeneration of the family, the weaknesses from both sides. But Maxime is manly enough to impregnate the maid and then move on to more sophisticated lovers.
Still he made me think of the parts in opera (I think called "trouser roles") which are young men whose parts are sung by women. For instance in The Marriage of Figaro, there's a boy/teen (played by a woman) named Cherubino and the ladies amuse themselves dressing him up.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments Robin wrote: "Still he made me think of the parts in opera (I think called "trouser roles") which are young men whose parts are sung by women. For instance in The Marriage of Figaro, there's a boy/teen (played by a woman) named Cherubino and the ladies amuse themselves dressing him up. "

I do have a weird sensation that there is a strong case of gender-bender (nothing wrong with it, but how bold Zola is). I know he was trying to show the degeneration of the rich middle class, but even with this objective in his mind, this is unbelievable
audacious and bold.

And then we read that he had impregnated the maid and was reprimanded for his 'low' connections BY RENEE, not by his father who only financially helped to sort out this unsavory predicament. As a father, Aristide definitely is absent in Maxime's life.


Cleo (cleopatra18) | 156 comments Zola certainly portrays a sense of a falseness beneath all this grandeur and opulence that the characters strive to portray. The bourgeois are not presented as truly sophisticated, cosmopolitan and refined people, but as base, disreputable people acting a part. Art and decor is displayed not for its own sake but what it reflects of its owners in its worth, and people are treated as if they are property and not human beings. In contrast, the servant, Baptiste, appears to have a contempt for the everyone and everything going on around him.

I'm a little perplexed by the character of Madame Sidonie. She appears so crass and disreputable that I have a difficult time seeing her in the situations in which Zola has placed her. She can be compared to a pimp in a number of ways, yet I would expect her appearance and manner to have at least something elevated in it, for the upper class people of Paris to even have anything to do with her, even if it is a fabrication. But perhaps this is part of Zola's message; gain is all to these wealthy Parisians and they will even use a sleazy, duplicitous, unkempt, old (in appearance) woman if it is to their benefit.


Dagny (madamevauquer) The Brian Nelson translation has the following note about fashion houses such as the one in which Maxime was so petted by the women.
NOTE:
"The 1850s saw the emergence of haute couture, which was determined by an Englishman, Charles Frederick Worth (1826-95). After moving to Paris and working as an assistant for Gagelin and Opigez, the leading fashion fabric retailers of the day, he went into business as a couturier, and set about revolutionizing the fashion business. He brought a new level of tailoring to women's fashion, turned visits to his salons into special social events, and introduced the now celebrated live mannequin to the Paris fashion world. Dictator of style, Worth attained a social standing unheard of by any tailor before him. He became internationally famous after being taken up by the Empress Eugenie, who was considered the epitome of fashion in her day."


Dagny (madamevauquer) Cleo wrote: "I'm a little perplexed by the character of Madame Sidonie. She appears so crass and disreputable that I have a difficult time seeing her in the situations in which Zola has placed her."

Sidonie doesn't seem to show up at 'respectable' places. She doesn't come to Saccard and Rene's wedding-even though she arranged it-as she considers herself too shabby and doesn't want to reflect on his background. She worked with Rene's aunt to arrange it-the aunt who felt guilty about what happened to Rene. Her business of marriage brokering seems to be based on 'need' with one side needing money and the other needing to make a respectable marriage quickly. She runs her business in a sort of back-street manner with a back door so that people can come and go without being seen. This is in contrast to the woman who runs a fashionable salon where young society people can meet and get acquainted.

I find Sidonie quite an interesting character.


message 7: by Robin P, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2031 comments Mod
Sidonie handles the feminine equivalent of what Arisitide does, getting to know who needs what,who has secrets, who has something to sell. His is in the political and business arena, and hers is in the personal and family arena. It seems to be a family trait, as Eugene does it also, in the diplomatic sphere. None of them have any principles or ideals except to get power and money for themselves.
it interested me that after working hard for years to amass money, Aristide doesn't mind spending it. He likes showing it off on his house, his wife and his son. And after denying himself any pleasures while building his fortune, he is now on the town with his son, which strikes me as the most depraved part of the chapter.


Dagny (madamevauquer) Robin wrote: "And after denying himself any pleasures while building his fortune, he is now on the town with his son, which strikes me as the most depraved part of the chapter."

Sharing the same courtesans was rather freaky and meeting each other when one arrived as the other was leaving.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 1596 comments I thought the beginning of the chapter was disturbing, but it turned out the second part was even more disquieting and disturbing. Father and son sharing the same courtesans, visiting the same places, boasting about the victories, Sidonie covering Renee, etc.

I am surprised that this one is one of the least famous novel in the cycle. It definitely deserves more acclaim or if someone does not share Zola's outlook, then at least notoriety.

P.S. I am opening a thread for the next chapter, but I am slightly behind because it is time for the finals, packing and an extensive travelling season for me.

I will definitely catch up later tomorrow because I am anticipating the prospect of sitting in the chair for more that 30 hours and reading, if napping is not an option on board the plane. :-)


message 10: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jun 02, 2014 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2031 comments Mod
I liked Louise, I didn't find her repellent at all. She knows she isn't pretty or desirable, but she is witty and she doesn't miss anything about what is going on around her. She and Maxime get along very well. (But maybe I 'm getting ahead, you get to see more of her later.)


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