Friday, November 19, 2010

Chapter 9

This post also includes the end of Chapter 8.

It seems that my volume is a collectors' edition. There are missing pages. In their place, pages from earlier in the book are reprinted. Anyway, I got through it using links from deBuren. The drawings and the complete text are free on the web. They are also great tools for anyone who wants to follow along and lives in an area where Dutch language books are hard to find.

Chapter 8 ends with the protagonist's bossy wife getting accustomed to using the phone to harangue local businesses.

Chapter 9 opens with another trip to Van Schoonbeke's, where he gets to show off his new stationery.

All of his holding forth comes to a halt as his kids show up. The cheese he ordered is due to arrive. Suddenly, he's like the speculator joked about in economics classes, faced with taking delivery of an impossibly large order of a commodity. From there, it's back home, where everyone remains mad at him.

In this chapter, his wife addresses him directly, and we find out that his name is Frans.

One thing I don't quite understand is how he refers to his daughter. He says, "She looked like a hinny.*" At another point, she is referred to as, "The young donkey in question." I wonder if this is particular to Elsschot or if referring to little girls this way is a common Belgianism. I remember a Spanish teacher who talked of her days learning English with dismay, "Why should clams be happy?**"

*A hinny is a hybrid animal similar to a mule, but it is made from the opposite gender combination of horse and donkey.

**In Spanish the saying is, "Happy as a worm." Feliz como una lombriz.

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