Raymond Queneau

Zazie in the Metro


"Being or nothingness, that is the question. Ascending, descending, coming, going, a man does so much that in the end he disappears. A taxi bears him off. A metro carries him away, the Tower doesn’t care, nor the Panthéon. Paris is but a dream, Gabriel is but a reverie (a charming one). Zazie the dream of a reverie (or of a nightmare) and all this story the dream of a dream, the reverie of a reverie, scarcely more than the typewritten delirium of an idiotic novelist (oh! sorry). Over there farther—a little farther—than the Place de République, the graves are overflowing with Parisians who were, who ascended and descended the stairs, came and went in the streets, and who did so much that in the end they disappeared. Forceps bore them, a hearse carries them away and the Tower rusts and the Panthéon cracks more rapidly than the bones of the dead who are too much with us dissolve in the humus of the town impregnated with cares. But I am alive, and there ends my knowledge, for of the taximann, fled in his lacotory jalopy, or of my niece, suspended a thousand feet up in the atmosphere, or of my spouse the gentle Marceline, left guarding the household gods, I know nothing at this precise moment, here and now, I know nothing but this, alexandrinarily: that they are almost dead because they are not here. But what do I see above the hairy noddles of the good people who surround me?"

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