Drunken Foucarmont in Emile Zola’s “Nana”

Emile Zola’s novel Nana is lengthy, but Foucarmont is entertaining:

“As far as I’m concerned,’ said Foucarmont, “I’ve drunk every imaginable sort of wine in all four quarters of the globe…Extraordinary liquids some of them were, strong enough to kill a man on the spot. Well, none of them had even the slightest effect on me. I can’t make myself drunk, and I can’t.” he was very pale and calm, lolling back in his chair and drinking without stopping. (118)

“Why, in Havana,” Foucarmont went on, “they make a brandy from a very certain wild berry which tastes as if you’re swallowing fire. Well, one evening I drank over a liter of it, and it didn’t affect me one bit. Better than that, another time when we were on the coast of Coromandel, some savages gave us heaven knows what sort of mixture of pepper and vitriol, and that didn’t affect me either. I can’t make myself drunk.” (119)

Foucarmont drained a glass of Chartreuse. Chartreuse didn’t have the slightest effect on him, not even that much, and he tapped his thumbnail against the edge of his teeth. But all of a sudden, just as he was advancing on Labordette, he turned white and fell like a log in front of the sideboard. He was dead drunk. (124)

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