(from Germinal by Emile Zola, translated by Leonard Tancock. Penguin Classics, 1954)
‘Another lot of balderdash!’
‘Balderdash! They’ll never get anywhere with their poppycock!’
. . .
‘If I walked out today they would at once grant me the hundred and fifty, the artful buggers!’
‘You beastly tike!’
‘Lumme! it’s none too hot,’ said Catherine, shivering.
‘Here, you, the toff!’ he called to Etienne.
‘Well, there’s been another shemozzle….’
‘Mummy, mummy, it’s late!’
‘Alzire, give it a bit of sponge round, will you?’
‘Oh, get along with you, you ninny!’
‘Right-oh, I’ll catch you up.’
‘Good night, mate! I say, do you know that girl Roussie?’
‘Past nine—well, did you ever!’
‘Bloody little toad!’ swore Etienne.
‘Bloody hell! Aren’t we nearly there?’
(from The Black Sheep by Honoré de Balzac, translated by Donald Adamson. Penguin Classics, 1970)
‘I have had my skull chipped in a duel with my legacy-hunter…who has kicked the bucket.’
‘The only help the good woman can give me is to kick the bucket as soon as possible….’
‘If I stay on my pins….’
‘My master will shut all your traps,’ Kouski replied….
‘It is best to leg it to New York than moulder away in a pinewood coffin here in France….’
Hi, there! Etc.
(from The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Lord Sudley. Penguin Classics, 1952)
‘Hi, there!’ he cried.
‘Hi, there!’ cried Jussac walking up to them and signing to his men to follow him. “Hi, there, you musketeers.”
‘Hi, there, what’s the hurry?’ cried the two musketeers.
. . .
‘Yes, boob’s just the word for him,’ said Porthos.
‘And I may tell you, Sir, I ran one of the blighters through with his own sword,’ said Aramis.
‘I saw him run two of the blighters through….’
‘My wife’s escaped?’ cried Bonacieux. ‘Oh blast the woman!’
‘Madame Bonacieux!’ muttered d’Artagnon. ‘By Jove, I’m in luck!’
‘So you’re frightened of that young whippersnapper, are you?’
‘That’s awkward,’ went on Athos, talking half to himself and half to d’Artagnon. ‘If I kill you I shall look a bit of an ogre, shan’t I?’
(from L’Assomoir by Emile Zola, translated by Leonard Tancock. Penguin Classics, 1970)
‘Ain’t my wife daft…! Ain’t she cracked to put me to bed…! Too silly, isn’t it, bang in the middle of the day when you don’t feel like bye-byes!’
‘And don’t turn your nose up at old Bazouge, because he’s held much grander dames than you in his arms and they have let him deal with them without complaining, being only too glad to go on with their bye-byes in the dark.’
‘Have they been good boys?’ she asked Madame Boche. ‘I hope they haven’t been driving you potty.’
‘Of course she trusted Madame Boche, only it drove her quite potty to see a stranger taking over her room….’
It smelt jolly strong—none of your piss-and-water!
‘Still it’s a jolly hard way to earn it, because you risk your life more than your fair share.’
Gervaise didn’t even start eating, but just sent them packing with a few home truths, saying she was jolly glad she didn’t have to mess about with their lousy clothes anymore.
‘Blimey!’ he babbled, ‘what a sun! It fair knocks you on the head!’
‘Crikey! Wasn’t it heavy?’
‘If I were elected I’d go up to the rostrum and say: Bollocks!’
(from Pierre and Jean by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Leonard Tancock. Penguin Classics, 1979)
(First sentence) ‘Dash it!’ old Roland suddenly exclaimed….’
‘Cripes! They’re fresh, that lot!’
‘Right-oh,’ repeated Roland….
‘Look at that, and we get worked up about potty little sums of money!’
‘He’s a jolly handsome man!’
‘Oh, these blessed doctors, they’re all the same: don’t eat, don’t drink, don’t make love, cut out all fun and games. It’s all naughty-naughty for your poor little health.’
‘Go and find that picture, duckie, as you’ve finished your dinner.’
‘By Jove! Suppose we went after lunch?’
—from the summer reading of Elizabeth Hardwick
October 26, 1989