Tag Archives: Emile Zola

Short Takes: Music with Zola (and Berlioz)

Outside Les Halles Market, Photograph by Henri Lemoine (1848-1924)

Outside Les Halles Market, Photograph by Henri Lemoine (1848-1924)

“Claude had enthusiastically leapt to his feet on the bench and forced his companion to admire daybreak on the vegetables. There was a sea of vegetables between the rows of pavilions from pointe Saint-Eustache to rue des Halles. At the two intersections at either end the seas grew higher, completely flooding the pavement. Dawn rose slowly in soft grays, coloring everything with a light wash of watercolors. The mounting piles, like a swelling sea, the river of greenery rushing through the streets like an autumnal torrent, took on delicate shadows and hues: tender violet, milk-blushed rose, a green steeped in yellows—all the soft, pale hues that change the sky into silk at sunrise. Step by step the fire of dawn rose higher, shooting up bursts of flame at the far end of rue Rambuteau as the vegetables brightened and grew more distinct from the bluish darkness that clung to the ground. Lettuce, escarole, and chicory, with rich earth still stuck to them, opened to expose swelling hearts. Bundles of spinach, bunches of sorrel, packets of artichokes, piles of peas and beans, mountains of romaine tied with straw, sang the full greenery repertoire from the shiny green lacquered pods to the deep green leaves—a continuous range of ascending and descending scales that faded away in the variegated heads of celery and bundles of leeks. But the most piercing note of all came from the flaming carrots and the snowy splotches of turnips, strewn in ample quantities all along the market and lighting it with their colors.”

—Émile Zola, The Belly of Paris (1873) [28] Continue reading