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The Miller's Prologue and Tale, The Reeve's Prologue and Tale, and The Cook's Prologue and Tale, from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

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This week I've finished reading Fragment I of The Canterbury Tales, which consists of the General Prologue, The Knight's Tale, and three shorter prologues and tales from The Miller, The Reeve, and The Cook:
The Miller's Prologue (3109 - 3186)
The Miller was described in the General Prologue as, ... a janglere and a goliardeys, / And that was moost of synne and harlotrieswhich means he could write but was a bit of a jester producing mostly sinful, bawdy lines. By the time the Knight had finished his tale the Miller is drunk ("The Millere, that for dronken was al pale") - when the host asks the Monk to tell his story the Miller, Robin is his name, interrupts and tells the group he will be the next man to tell a tale -  ... "By armes, and by blood and bones,
I kan a noble tale for the nones,
With which I wol now quite the Knyghts tale."The host, seeing how drunk he is, suggests this is not a good idea but the Miller is determined, though does acknowledge how dru…

Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans.

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His eye fell on the yellow book that Lord Henry had sent him. What was it, he wondered. He went towards the little, pearl-coloured octagonal stand that had always looked to him like the work of some strange Egyptian bees that wrought in silver, and taking up the volume, flung himself into an arm-chair and began to turn over the leaves. After a few minutes he became absorbed. It was the strangest book that he had ever read. It seemed to him that in exquisite raiment, and to the delicate sound of flutes, the sins of the world were passing in dumb show before him. Things that he had dimly dreamed of were suddenly made real to him. Things of which he had never dreamed were gradually revealed.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde (1891).Two very different authors - Oscar Wilde and Émile Zola - are connected by J.-K. Huysmans, the author of Against Nature (Á Rebours, 1884). Huysmans was an admirer and disciple of Zola and his school of Naturalism, and, I didn't mention this in the l…

The Ladies Paradise by Émile Zola.

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The Ladies Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) is the eleventh novel of Émile Zola's 'Rougon Macquart' series and was first published in 1883. It's regarded as a sequel to the tenth novel in the series, Pot Luck (Pot-Bouille, 1882), which, yes, I ought to have reviewed before writing this! But these novels do stand alone - I don't believe there is any need to read Pot Luck first, and I have already read that novel before and I didn't feel any advantage in having done so when revisiting The Ladies Paradise
I think it's important to begin with Zola's intentions for his Rougon Macquart novels. He wrote in the preface of the first of the novels, The Fortune of the Rougons(La Fortune des Rougon, 1871): My aim is to explain how a family, a small group of human beings, behaves in a given society after blossoming forth and giving birth to ten or twenty individuals who, though they may seem at first glance totally dissimilar from each other, are, as analysis shows, …