The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

In Sebastien Japrisot's very moving novel of the slaughterhouse of Verdun, Very Long Engagement, there is a lovely fellow called Célestin Poux, much appreciated by his fellow-soldiers for his uncanny ability to obtain food and supplies even during the worst moments of the war. He is even credited with having stolen a entire ceremonial meal destined for the higher officers, and having fed his shattered companions in the trenches. Still, there were many who traduced his character. Here is what he has to say:

Commenting on the references to himself in the letters she has received, he explains, "It's all a pack of lies. All right, I cut some corners here and there, but I never cheated anyone and I always gave favour for favour. The cauldron of soup, for example, was only a kettle that barely held enough to fill two canteens, and teh cooks were telling the truth, I was in cahoots with them. As for the bigwigs' dinner, who's to complain? Not anybody in my section, you can bet. It was a wonderful leg of mutton, nicely roasted on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside. And the peaches in syrup. Simply marvellous. It was just as well off in our bellies as it would've been inside those pompous old sticklers. And I gave my source there packets of Caporal tobacco for the tip."


Post a Comment