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Froth on the Daydream (1947)

by Boris Vian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,980386,088 (3.97)21
Fiction. Translated from the French by Brian Harper. "FOAM OF THE DAZE is a novel like no other, a sexy, innocent, smart and sweet cartoon of a world which then begins, little by little, to bleed real blood until, in the end, the blood turns out to be our own. I read it nearly thirty years ago in its previous incarnation as Mood Indigo and I loved it then; it's still one of my favorite books in the whole world"--Jim Krusoe. "A kind of jazzy, cheerful, sexy, sci-fi mid-20th century Huysmans. Check it out. There is just no place like France"--Richard Hell.… (more)
  1. 00
    The House of a Thousand Floors by Jan Weiss (_eskarina)
    _eskarina: A bit more (Vian) or less (Weiss) surreal imagination, but outstanding in both cases.
  2. 00
    Kangaroo Notebook by Kōbō Abe (moietmoi)

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» See also 21 mentions

English (19)  French (12)  Italian (3)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I have never read a book quite like L'écume des jours, but then again I have never read a book quite like Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery and so reading these two in parallel was quite a strange experience, because in some aspects they are similar. [Le Petit Prince] was published in 1943 and Boris Vian's first novel hit the streets in 1947, both scenario's take place in a sort of parallel universe and its easy to believe that Vian was thoroughly familiar with The Petit Prince when he wrote L'écume des jours which takes his parallel world out of the reach of children and into a world of tragedy and satire.

L'écume des Jours tells the story of Colin a wealthy young man who loves jazz and has no need to work, he lives in an apartment with Chick his best friend. Chick is obsessed with the literature of Jean Sol-Patre (Jean-Paul Satre in the real world) and has little money himself. The apartment is also home to Nicholas who is both chef and chauffeur to Colin and a couple of mice who all live happily together. Nicholas introduces Colin to his cousin Chloé and Chick meets her friend Alise. Both men fall in love with the two girls and Colin marries Chloé who moves into the apartment. He lends some money to Chick who instead of marrying Alise spends his dublazons (it is an alternative world) on the works of Sol-Patre who seems to be publishing books and articles almost every week. Chloé becomes ill with a growth in her lung and Colin finds a doctor who treats her with new techniques. The treatment is expensive and Colin spends all his money on treatments and flowers, believing that cut flowers in Chloé's sick room will help her recovery (cut flowers are an expensive item in France). Chloe does not recover, Colin is impoverished and searches for work and Chick spends the last of his money on a pair of old trousers previously owned by Sol-Patre.

This is a tragi-comedy love story shot through with satire, magic realism and naivety. It is told in short chapters that have a certain grip on the real world then lurch into parody, this reader was continually wrong footed when at the start of the novel, but quickly learn't to go with the flow. The first chapter introduces us to Colin and describes his toilette in some detail and we meet Chick and Nicholas and then rather bizarrely in the cuisine are the mice who are dancing happily in the rays of the sunshine and Colin in passing by to see what is cooking caresses them lovingly. There is much talk about food and jazz as the first chapter comes to the end. From then on the chapters increasingly become a little more surreal until we are in another world which seems an awful parody of this one. There are some great moments (or little chapters) in the book: Nicholas takes Colin and Chloe for a drive and to avoid traffic they take a short cut on unmade roads through a copper mining area with open foundries and Chloe is frightened by the workers and the destroyed landscape, there is the strange hospital of Professor Mangemanche, there are the efforts of Colin to raise money by selling his pianococktail and invention that mixes drinks when a tune is played on the keyboard, the burning of the libraries and the murder of Sol-Patre and finally the tragedy of Chloés sick room

In this surreal world which becomes more tragic Boris Vian takes aim and satirises religion, celebrity status, fine dining, the medical profession, discrimination and it seems many other aspects of contemporary life. The frothy good natured approach that Vian takes in his writing only starts to slip a little in the final chapters, but it is a book with its own unique style and as such succeeds wonderfully. Funny and sad at the same time and a five star read. ( )
3 vote baswood | Jan 4, 2021 |
I've got no doublezoons left ( )
  slplst | Jun 23, 2019 |
fantastically bizarre novel ( )
  eyelit | Mar 22, 2018 |
Originally published in France in 1947, MOOD INDIGO is not quite a science fiction but not a straight novel either. Surreal would be more accurate. Rooms and people change shapes. People get sick with strange illnesses and doctors have healing weird techniques. Romance blooms, and as do blossoms, and eventually die. Individuals are replaceable in the society with little consideration given to them as people; they are treated more like cogs in a gear.
Boris Vian, as translated by Stanley Chapman, likes puns and Spoonerisms. That is quite evident in the names of some of the characters and references: Wry-Tangle, Jean Pulse Heartre, ffroydde, Father Phigga, High-Pottinuices. Religion, particularly Catholicism, gets hit pretty hard.
Colin, the main character, is independently wealthy. He is also very generous, especially to his friend, Chick, whose main interests in life, in order of importance to him, are collecting works by and property of Jean Pulse Heartre (Jean Paul Sartre, who was a friend of Vian’s) and his girlfriend, Alyssum. Chick doesn’t have enough money to marry her and working is not high on his list of priorities.
Colin and Chloe are also in love and looking forward to a long life together. Soon after their marriage she becomes ill and everything changes.
Viams words, often chronicling absurdity, demonstrate his observation ability, his sense of the ridiculous as and his outlook on life, particularly work, medicine, and religion.
Early in the story, Colin describes and uses one of his inventions: The clavicocktail: The drink is created musically. For each note played there is a corresponding relationship with a drink, with or without alcohol. The length of time the note is held, the tempo, the number of measures, and the chords control the quantities.

Colin ...stood on the corner of the square, waiting for Chloe. The square was perfectly round...”

“He pushed the door, which pushed him equally roughly back, so we went into the shop window without any further argument.”

“The wind blew a path between the leaves, took it, and came out on the other side of the trees loaded with the perfume of buds and flowers.”

Discussion with a pharmacist: “What can I do for you gentlemen?”
“Make up this prescription.”
“The chemist snatched the sheet of paper, drew a pair of eyes, nose and mouth on it, and then applied eyeshadow powder and lipstick to them.
“That’s done,” he said, “blacking one of the eyes with a rubber stamp proclaiming his name and address.”

“At any rate, it's stupid to do work that machines could do just as well.”
“Those machines have still got to be made and who's going to that.”
“No it's not their fault. It's because they've been taught that work is holy, good, and beautiful. It counts above everything else, the workers alone will inherit the earth. Only things have been arranged so that they have to spend all their time working and there's no time left the rest of it to come true.”
“But it's not their fault that they think work is so terrific, is it.”
“Well they must be stupid then!”
“Yes, of course they are stupid that's why they agree with those people who want them to think that work is the best possible thing for them. It stops them thinking for themselves and trying to reach a state they would need to work anymore.”
There are not many reviews posted for MOOD INDIGO. Several writers said they preferred the movie. Others liked a different translation. On the whole, people either thought it was brilliant or didn’t like it very much. It wasn’t the type of book I usually read but was lured to it by a review by someone I admire.
The writing is very good but the story ( )
1 vote Judiex | Dec 16, 2017 |
Prendete un ottimo Benni.
Conditelo abbondantemente con meraviglie dal paese di Alice, scaglie di cioccolato fondente, marca Willy Wonka, una spruzzata di poesia e jazz q.b.
Et voilà... Boris Vian!

vabbe'.. se non si fosse capito, mi sa che ho un nuovo scrittore preferito!
questo libro è veramente un vortice allucinante e visionario... un po' difficile all'inizio entrar-wc e lasciarsi andare.
sublime la visione di un mondo che muta in risposta ai nostri stati d'animo.
libro da leggere, e rileggere negli anni... sicuramente si sarà trasformato anche lui!
;p ( )
  cry6379 | Sep 17, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
La schiuma dei giorni, una straziante storia d'amore, in parte autobiografica
Le vite vissute da Boris Vian

Gira e rigira, anche rileggendo La schiuma dei giorni di Boris Vian a tantissimi anni dalla prima volta, bisogna dare ragione a Queneau: è il più straziante dei romanzi d'amore. Ma non è solo un romanzo d'amore. Dentro ci si ritrovano tanti ingredienti del cocktail-Vian (irripetibile, non c'è dubbio): i giochi di parole, il surrealismo, l'amore per il jazz e la patafisica del suo carissimo Jarry, una forte irrisione della morale corrente, un antimilitarismo coltivato negli anni della breve vita di Vian (1920-1959) in cui la Francia era spesso in armi (seconda guerra mondiale, Indocina, Algeria).
La storia è semplice. Colin (diminutivo di Nicolas, ma in francese significa anche merluzzo) è un giovane ricco, nullafacente, con tanto di cuoco coltissimo che cita Gouffé e prepara anticipazioni di cucina futura (la salsa alla crema di mango e ginepro cucita dentro involtini di tessuto di vitello). Nella casa ci sono topi parlanti, ma non bisogna formalizzarsi. Nella premessa al libro Vian dichiara: «La storia è interamente vera, perché io me la sono inventata da capo a piedi». Non lavora, Colin, ma ogni tanto inventa qualcosa, come il pianococktail. Ha un amico, Chick, che spende tutti i risparmi (e anche i prestiti di Colin) nell'acquisto di opere di Jean Sol Partre ("Il vomito", rilegato in pelle di puzzola, "Il tanfo", ma nel parossistico e devastante finale anche pipe, pantaloni del filosofo esistenzialista). Il buffo è che, nelle mille cose della sua breve vita, Vian ha avuto Jean Paul Sartre come direttore (a Temps modernes ). Colin s'innamora di Chloé, la sposa, ma nel viaggio di nozze verso il Midi Chloé comincia a tossire, s'ammala. Le sta crescendo una ninfea nel polmone destro.
Quel fiore mortale può essere combattuto solo dal profumo di altri fiori. Sempre innamoratissimo, ma anche sempre più povero (i fiori costano) e disperato, Colin accetta i lavori più pesanti e impensabili. Cova canne di fucile, che si sviluppano solo col calore del corpo umano. Ma viene licenziato perché il suo amore sforna canne che terminano con una rosa d'acciaio. Fa il messaggero di cattive notizie con un giorno d'anticipo, finché vede il suo indirizzo nel lavoro da sbrigare e capisce che Chloé morirà il giorno dopo. Le ultime pagine, il funerale da poveri che fa da contrappunto angoscioso al matrimonio da ricchi, con gli stessi protagonisti, sono per me tra le più belle del libro, insieme all'appartamento di Colin e Chloé che si restringe progressivamente e non lascia passare il sole man mano che la morte di Chloé s'avvicina e la calda pienezza dell'amore si consuma.
E sarà anche per questo lirismo scoperto, per questo canto all'incanto totale dell'amore, che La schiuma dei giorni è così letto dai giovani. Pure, alla sua prima apparizione non andò oltre le 1.500 copie. Boris (sua madre Yvonne, melomane, l'aveva chiamato così pensando a Boris Godunov) fu un genio parzialmente compreso e un uomo affamato di vita, consapevole che una grave malattia di cuore non gli avrebbe lasciato il tempo di invecchiare. Alla luce di questi dati si potrebbe anche leggere La schiuma dei giorni in chiave autobiografica (il polmone come il cuore, l'appartamento che si restringe) e d'altra parte le chiavi di lettura sono tantissime in rapporto al tantissimo che Vian è stato. Trombettista, ingegnere, traduttore, giornalista (solo di scritti sul jazz, con l'anagramma di Bison ravi, Bisonte estasiato, 696 pagine), giallista-scandalo con lo pseudonimo di Vernon Sullivan, drammaturgo, attore, chansonnier (oltre 500 canzoni, la più famosa resta Le déserteur ), autore teatrale, poeta, direttore di casa discografica. Nelle foto ha l'aria di un signore serio che sta per mettersi a fare le boccacce. "Pauvre Boris" cantava Jean Ferrat, quanto successo postumo. La miglior chiave di lettura per La schiuma dei giorni è non averne, o buttarle via tutte. Basta leggerlo, e si resta felicemente feriti.

added by cf66 | editLa Repubblica-L'Almanacco dei libri, Gianni Mura

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vian, Borisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bajomi Lázár, EndreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bens, JacquesAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chapman, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuster, JaumeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harper, BrianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heibert, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martí, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pehnt, AntjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puszczewicz, MarekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sundberg, Lars ErikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turchetta, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Völker, KlausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verdegal, Joan ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Pour mon Bibi
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Dans la vie, l'essentiel est de porter sur tout des jugements a priori.
Colin finished dressing.
Il y a seulement deux choses : c'est l'amour, de toutes les façons, avec des jolies filles, et la musique de la Nouvelle-Orléans ou de Duke Ellington.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Translated from the French by Brian Harper. "FOAM OF THE DAZE is a novel like no other, a sexy, innocent, smart and sweet cartoon of a world which then begins, little by little, to bleed real blood until, in the end, the blood turns out to be our own. I read it nearly thirty years ago in its previous incarnation as Mood Indigo and I loved it then; it's still one of my favorite books in the whole world"--Jim Krusoe. "A kind of jazzy, cheerful, sexy, sci-fi mid-20th century Huysmans. Check it out. There is just no place like France"--Richard Hell.

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