Sunday, September 5, 2010

It Sounded Like Fireworks

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night, tr. Ralph Manheim (New York: New Directions, 1986; rpt. 2006), p. 331 (ellipses in original):
One declined most graciously, explaining at length and in confidence to the other ladies present, who took a keen interest, that her doctor had forbidden her all sweets, that her doctor was a genius, that he had done wonders in combating constipation in Toulouse and elsewhere, that he was well on his way to curing her of a retention of "number two," from which she had been suffering for more than ten years, thanks to a very special diet and a miraculous medicine known to him alone. The other ladies were not going to let themselves be outdone so easily in matters of constipation. Their own constipation defied comparison. They were up in arms. They demanded proofs. In response to their doubts, the lady observed simply that when moving her bowels she now broke wind, that it sounded like fireworks...that because of her new-style bowel movements, all well molded, solid, and substantial, she was obliged to take extra precautions...Sometimes these marvelous new feces of hers were so hard they gave her excruciating pain in her rectum...a tearing sensation!...So now she had to use vaseline before moving her bowels. Irrefutable.

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