Tartarin of Tarascon - Alphonse Daudet - ebook
Kategoria: Obyczajowe i romanse Język: angielski Rok wydania: 1872

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Alphonse Daudet

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Opis ebooka Tartarin of Tarascon - Alphonse Daudet

The burlesque adventures of Tartarin, a local hero of Tarascon, a small town in southern France, whose invented adventures and reputation as a swashbuckler finally force him to travel to a very prosaic Algiers in search of lions. Instead of finding a romantic, mysterious Oriental fantasy land, he finds a sordid world suspended between Europe and the Middle East. And worst of all, there are no lions left.

Opinie o ebooku Tartarin of Tarascon - Alphonse Daudet

Fragment ebooka Tartarin of Tarascon - Alphonse Daudet

About
Part 1 - EPISODE THE FIRST, IN TARASCON
Chapter 1 - The Garden Round the Giant Trees.
Chapter 2 - A general glance bestowed upon the good town of Tarascon, and a particular one on "the cap-poppers."
Chapter 3 - "Naw, naw, naw!" The general glance protracted upon the good town.

About Daudet:

Alphonse Daudet, né a Nîmes (Gard) le 13 mai 1840 et mort a Paris le 16 décembre 1897, est un écrivain et auteur dramatique français. Il est inhumé au cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise a Paris. Alphonse Daudet naît a Nîmes le 13 mai 1840. Apres avoir suivi les cours de l'institution Canivet a Nîmes, il entre en sixieme au lycée Ampere. Alphonse doit renoncer a passer son baccalauréat a cause de la ruine en 1855 de son pere, commerçant en soieries. Il devient maître d'étude au college d'Ales. Cette expérience pénible lui inspirera son premier roman, Le Petit Chose (1868). Daudet rejoint ensuite son frere a Paris et y mene une vie de boheme. Il publie en 1859 un recueil de vers, Les Amoureuses. L'année suivante, il rencontre le poete Frédéric Mistral. Il a son entrée dans quelques salons littéraires, collabore a plusieurs journaux, notamment Paris-Journal, L'Universel et Le Figaro. En 1861, il devient secrétaire du duc de Morny (1811-1865) demi-frere de Napoléon III et président du Corps Législatif. Ce dernier lui laisse beaucoup de temps libre qu'il occupe a écrire des contes, des chroniques mais meurt subitement en 1865 : cet événement fut le tournant décisif de la carriere d'Alphonse. Apres cet évenement, Alphonse Daudet se consacra a l'écriture, non seulement comme chroniqueur au journal Le Figaro mais aussi comme romancier. Puis, apres avoir fait un voyage en Provence, Alphonse commença a écrire les premiers textes qui feront partie des Lettres de mon Moulin. Il connut son premier succes en 1862-1865, avec la Derniere Idole, piece montée a l'Odéon et écrite en collaboration avec Ernest Manuel - pseudonyme d'Ernest Lépine. Puis, il obtint, par le directeur du journal L'Événement, l'autorisation de les publier comme feuilleton pendant tout l'été de l'année 1866, sous le titre de Chroniques provençales. Certains des récits des Lettres de mon Moulin sont restés parmi les histoires les plus populaires de notre littérature, comme La Chevre de monsieur Seguin, Les Trois Messes basses ou L'Élixir du Révérend Pere Gaucher. Le premier vrai roman d'Alphonse Daudet fut Le Petit Chose écrit en 1868. Il s'agit du roman autobiographique d'Alphonse dans la mesure ou il évoque son passé de maître d'étude au college d'Ales (dans le Gard, au nord de Nîmes). C'est en 1874 qu'Alphonse décida d'écrire des romans de mours comme : Fromont jeune et Risler aîné mais aussi Jack (1876), Le Nabab (1877) – dont Morny serait le "modele" – les Rois en exil (1879), Numa Roumestan (1881) ou L'Immortel (1883). Pendant ces travaux de romancier et de dramaturge (il écrivit dix-sept pieces), il n'oublia pas pour autant son travail de conteur : il écrivit en 1872 Tartarin de Tarascon, qui fut son personnage mythique. Les contes du lundi (1873), un recueil de contes sur la guerre franco-prussienne, témoignent aussi de son gout pour ce genre et pour les récits merveilleux. Daudet subit les premieres atteintes d'une maladie incurable de la moelle épiniere, le tabes dorsalis, mais continue de publier jusqu'en 1895. Il décede le 16 décembre 1897 a Paris, a l'âge de 57 ans.

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Part 1
EPISODE THE FIRST, IN TARASCON


Chapter 1 The Garden Round the Giant Trees.

MY first visit to Tartarin of Tarascon has remained a never-to-be-forgotten date in my life; although quite ten or a dozen years ago, I remember it better than yesterday.

At that time the intrepid Tartarin lived in the third house on the left as the town begins, on the Avignon road. A pretty little villa in the local style, with a front garden and a balcony behind, the walls glaringly white and the venetians very green; and always about the doorsteps a brood of little Savoyard shoe-blackguards playing hopscotch, or dozing in the broad sunshine with their heads pillowed on their boxes.

Outwardly the dwelling had no remarkable features, and none would ever believe it the abode of a hero; but when you stepped inside, ye gods and little fishes! what a change! From turret to foundation-stone—I mean, from cellar to garret,—the whole building wore a heroic front; even so the garden!

O that garden of Tartarin's! there's not its match in Europe! Not a native tree was there—not one flower of France; nothing hut exotic plants, gum-trees, gourds, cotton-woods, cocoa and cacao, mangoes, bananas, palms, a baobab, nopals, cacti, Barbary figs—well, you would believe yourself in the very midst of Central Africa, ten thousand leagues away. It is but fair to say that these were none of full growth; indeed, the cocoa-palms were no bigger than beet root and the baobab (arbos gigantea—"giant tree," you know) was easily enough circumscribed by a window-pot; but, notwithstanding this, it was rather a sensation for Tarascon, and the townsfolk who were admitted on Sundays to the honour of contemplating Tartarin's baobab, went home chokeful of admiration.

Try to conceive my own emotion, which I was bound to feel on that day of days when I crossed through this marvellous garden, and that was capped when I was ushered into the hero's sanctum.

His study, one of the lions—I should say, lions' dens—of the town, was at the end of the garden, its glass door opening right on to the baobab.

You are to picture a capacious apartment adorned with firearms and steel blades from top to bottom: all the weapons of all the countries in the wide world—carbines, rifles, blunderbusses, Corsican, Catalan, and dagger knives, Malay kreeses, revolvers with spring-bayonets, Carib and flint arrows, knuckle-dusters, life-preservers, Hottentot clubs, Mexican lassoes—now, can you expect me to name the rest? Upon the whole fell a fierce sunlight, which made the blades and the brass butt-plate of the muskets gleam as if all the more to set your flesh creeping. Still, the beholder was soothed a little by the tame air of order and tidiness reigning over the arsenal. Everything was in place, brushed, dusted, labelled, as in a museum; from point to point the eye descried some obliging little card reading:

Poisoned Arrows!
Do Not Touch!

Or,

Loaded!
Take care, please!

If it had not been for these cautions I never should have dared venture in.

In the middle of the room was an occasional table, on which stood a decanter of rum, a siphon of soda-water, a Turkish tobacco-pouch, "Captain Cook's Voyages," the Indian tales of Fenimore Cooper and Gustave Aimard, stories of hunting the bear, eagle, elephant, and so on. Lastly, beside the table sat a man of between forty and forty-five, short, stout, thick-set, ruddy, with flaming eyes and a strong stubbly beard; he wore flannel tights, and was in his shirt sleeves; one hand held a book, and the other brandished a very large pipe with an iron bowl-cap. Whilst reading heaven only knows what startling adventure of scalp-hunters, he pouted out his lower lip in a terrifying way, which gave the honest phiz of the man living placidly on his means the same impression of kindly ferocity which abounded throughout the house.

This man was Tartarin himself—the Tartarin of Tarascon, the great, dreadnought, incomparable Tartarin of Tarascon.


Chapter 2 A general glance bestowed upon the good town of Tarascon, and a particular one on "the cap-poppers."

AT the time I am telling of, Tartarin of Tarascon had not become the present-day Tartarin, the great one so popular in the whole South of France: but yet he was even then the cock of the walk at Tarascon.

Let us show whence arose this sovereignty.

In the first place you must know that everybody is shooting mad in these parts, from the greatest to the least. The chase is the local craze, and so it has ever been since the mythological times when the Tarasque, as the county dragon was called, flourished himself and his tail in the town marshes, and entertained shooting parties got up against him. So you see the passion has lasted a goodish bit.

It follows that, every Sunday morning, Tarascon flies to arms, lets loose the dogs of the hunt, and rushes out of its walls, with game-bag slung and fowling-piece on the shoulder, together with a hurly-burly of hounds, cracking of whips, and blowing of whistles and hunting-horns. It's splendid to see! Unfortunately, there's a lack of game, an absolute dearth.

Stupid as the brute creation is, you can readily understand that, in time, it learnt some distrust.

For five leagues around about Tarascon, forms, lairs, and burrows are empty, and nesting-places abandoned. You'll not find a single quail or blackbird, one little leveret, or the tiniest tit. And yet the pretty hillocks are mightily tempting, sweet smelling as they are of myrtle, lavender, and rosemary; and the fine muscatels plumped out with sweetness even unto bursting, as they spread along the banks of the Rhone, are deucedly tempting too. True, true; but Tarascon lies behind all this, and Tarascon is down in the black books of the world of fur and feather. The very birds of passage have ticked it off on their guide-books, and when the wild ducks, coming down towards the Camargue in long triangles, spy the town steeples from afar, the outermost flyers squawk out loudly:

"Look out! there's Tarascon! give Tarascon the go-by, duckies!"

And the flocks take a swerve.

In short, as far as game goes, there's not a specimen left in the land save one old rogue of a hare, escaped by miracle from the massacres, who is stubbornly determined to stick to it all his life! He is very well known at Tarascon, and a name has been given him. "Rapid" is what they call him. It is known that he has his form on M. Bompard's grounds—which, by the way, has doubled, ay, tripled, the value of the property—but nobody has yet managed to lay him low. At present, only two or three inveterate fellows worry themselves about him. The rest have given him up as a bad job, and old Rapid has long ago passed into the legendary world, although your Tarasconer is very slightly superstitious naturally, and would eat cock-robins on toast, or the swallow, which is Our Lady's own bird, for that matter, if he could find any.

"But that won't do!" you will say. Inasmuch as game is so scarce, what can the sportsmen do every Sunday?

What can they do?

Why, goodness gracious! they go out into the real country two or three leagues from town. They gather in knots of five or six, recline tranquilly in the shade of some well, old wall, or olive tree, extract from their game-bags a good-sized piece of boiled beef, raw onions, a sausage, and anchovies, and commence a next to endless snack, washed down with one of those nice Rhone wines, which sets a toper laughing and singing. After that, when thoroughly braced up, they rise, whistle the dogs to heel, set the guns on half cock, and go "on the shoot"—another way of saying that every man plucks off his cap, "shies" it up with all his might, and pops it on the fly with No. 5, 6, or 2 shot, according to what he is loaded for.

The man who lodges most shot in his cap is hailed as king of the hunt, and stalks back triumphantly at dusk into Tarascon, with his riddled cap on the end of his gun-barrel, amid any quantity of dog-barks and horn-blasts.

It is needless to say that cap-selling is a fine business in the town. There are even some hatters who sell hunting-caps ready shot, torn, and perforated for the bad shots; but the only buyer known is the chemist Bezuquet. This is dishonourable!

As a marksman at caps, Tartarin of Tarascon never had his match.

Every Sunday morning out he would march in a new cap, and back he would strut every Sunday evening with a mere thing of shreds. The loft of Baobab Villa was full of these glorious trophies. Hence all Tarascon acknowledged him as master; and as Tartarin thoroughly understood hunting, and had read all the handbooks of all possible kinds of venery, from cap-popping to Burmese tiger-shooting, the sportsmen constituted him their great cynegetical judge, and took him for referee and arbitrator in all their differences.

Between three and four daily, at Costecalde the gunsmith's, a stout stern pipe-smoker might be seen in a green leather-covered arm-chair in the centre of the shop crammed with cap-poppers, they all on foot and wrangling. This was Tartarin of Tarascon delivering judgement—Nimrod plus Solomon.


Chapter 3 "Naw, naw, naw!" The general glance protracted upon the good town.

AFTER the craze for sporting, the lusty Tarascon race cherishes one love: ballad-singing. There's no believing what a quantity of ballads is used up in that little region. All the sentimental stuff turning into sere and yellow leaves in the oldest portfolios, are to be found in full pristine lustre in Tarascon. Ay, the entire collection. Every family has its own pet, as is known to the town.

For instance, it is an established fact that this is the chemist Bezuquet's family's:

"Thou art the fair star that I adore!"

The gunmaker Costecalde's family's:

"Would'st thou come to the land Where the log-cabins rise?"

The official registrar's family's:

"If I wore a coat of invisible green, Do you think for a moment I could be seen?"

And so on for the whole of Tarascon. Two or three times a week there were parties where they were sung. The singularity was their being always the same, and that the honest Tarasconers had never had an inclination to change them during the long, long time they had been harping on them. They were handed down from father to son in the families, without anybody improving on them or bowdlerising them: they were sacred. Never did it occur to Costecalde's mind to sing the Bezuquets', or the Bezuquets to try Costecalde's. And yet you may believe that they ought to know by heart what they had been singing for two-score years! But, nay! everybody stuck to his own,and they were all contented.

In ballad-singing, as in cap-popping, Tartarin was still the foremost. His superiority over his fellow-townsmen consisted in his not having any one song of his own, but in knowing the lot, the whole, mind you! But—there's a but—it was the devil's own work to get him to sing them.

Surfeited early in life with his drawing-room successes, our hero preferred by far burying himself in his hunting story-books, or spending the evening at the club, to making a personal exhibition before a Nimes piano between a pair of home-made candles. These musical parades seemed beneath him. Nevertheless, at whiles, when there was a harmonic party at Bezuquet's, he would drop into the chemist's shop, as if by chance, and, after a deal of pressure, consent to do the grand duo in Robert le Diable with old Madame Bezuquet. Whoso never heard that never heard anything! For my part, even if I lived a hundred years, I should always see the mighty Tartarin solemnly stepping up to the piano, setting his arms akimbo, working up his tragic mien, and, beneath the green reflection from the show-bottles in the window, trying to give his pleasant visage the fierce and satanic expression of Robert the Devil. Hardly would he fall into position before the whole audience would be shuddering with the foreboding that something uncommon was at hand. After a hush, old Madame Bezuquet would commence to her own accompaniment:

"Robert, my love is thine!
To thee I my faith did plight,
Thou seest my affright,—
Mercy for thine own sake,
And mercy for mine!"

In an undertone she would add: "Now, then, Tartarin!" Whereupon Tartarin of Tarascon, with crooked arms, clenched fists, and quivering nostrils, would roar three times in a formidable voice, rolling like a thunderclap in the bowels of the instrument:

"No! no! no!" which, like the thorough southerner he was, he pronounced nasally as "Naw! naw! naw!" Then would old Madame Bezuquet again sing:

"Mercy for thine own sake,
And mercy for mine!"

"Naw! naw! naw!" bellowed Tartarin at his loudest, and there the gem ended.

Not long, you see; but it was so handsomely voiced forth, so clearly gesticulated, and so diabolical, that a tremor of terror overran the chemist's shop, and the "Naw! naw! naw!" would be encored several times running.

Upon this Tartarin would sponge his brow, smile on the ladies, wink to the sterner sex, and withdraw upon his triumph to go remark at the club with a trifling, offhand air:

"I have just come from the Bezuquets', where I was forced to sing 'em the duo from Robert le Diable."

The cream of the joke was that he really believed it!