The Fat and the Thin

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Mondial, 2005 - Fiction - 301 pages
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"The Fat and the Thin" is a study of the teeming life which surrounds the great central markets of Paris. The heroine is Lisa Quenu, a daughter of Antoine Macquart (see The Fortune of the Rougons). She has become prosperous, and with prosperity her selfishness has increased. Her brother-in-law Florent had escaped from penal servitude in Cayenne and lived for a short time in her house, but she became tired of his presence and ultimately denounced him to the police. The book contains vivid pictures of the markets, bursting with the food of a great city, and of the vast population which lives by handling and distributing it. "But it also embraces a powerful allegory," writes Mr. E. A. Vizetelly in his preface to the English translation, "the prose song of the eternal battle between the lean of this world and the fat - a battle in which, as the author shows, the latter always come off successful. M. Zola had a distinct social aim in writing this book." (J. G. Patterson)
 

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Contents

CHAPTER I
1
CHAPTER II
38
CHAPTER III
97
CHAPTER IV
166
CHAPTER V
210
CHAPTER VI
273
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Page i - Let me have men about me that are fat ; Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights. Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look ; He thinks too much : such men are dangerous.
Page vi - But it also embraces a powerful allegory," writes Mr. EA Vizetelly in his preface to the English translation (The Fat and the Thin. London: Chatto & Windus), "the prose song of the eternal battle between the lean of this world and the fat — a battle in which, as the author shows, the latter always come off successful. M. Zola had a distinct social aim in writing this book.
Page 4 - ... length reached Courbevoie, the night was very dark. Paris, looking like a patch of star-sprent sky that had fallen upon the black earth, seemed to him to wear a forbidding aspect, as though angry at his return. Then he felt very faint, and his legs almost gave way beneath him as he descended the hill. As he crossed the Neuilly bridge he sustained himself by clinging to the parapet, and bent over and looked at the Seine rolling inky waves between its dense, massy banks. A red lamp on the water...

About the author (2005)

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.

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