Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2004 Newsletter

Excerpt from Le Chiendent (The Bark Tree, 1933)


The Bark Tree (Le Chiendent).
1968 English translation. Raymond Queneau.

At midday, you have to go and have lunch; not too far away, because you have to hurry back to work, and it mustn't be too expensive either, of course. A net, cast no one could say quite how, hauled a thousand human beings into these premises and here, in exchange for cash, they were fed. The silhouette is one of them, it's been caught. It eats: a magnificent rancid sardine, a very thin piece of flesh garnished with bits of wood and, when a delectable moment comes for it to sample the banana with jam, its fastidious neighbor is eating cod. The silhouette was used to it, it was the same every day. One anonymous individual, who had been caught in the first cast of the net, rapidly absorbed the muck bestowed upon him and was quickly replaced by the fastidious fish-lover, which later started to raise hell when, having himself arrived at the yogurt or dried fruit stage, a latecomer started stuffing himself with tripe, and this by means of a fork which the day before had served to shatter the mirror of two already ancient eggs, as witness the golden yellow of its prongs. Around 2 o'clock, in the deserted, but still stinking, restaurant, a few fat waitresses were mopping their armpits.  

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