Zazie in the Metro

Zazie In The Metro

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Zazie in the Metro

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Zazie in the Metro — or simply Zazie, depending on the translation (original French title: Zazie dans le métro) — a French novel written in 1959, was the first major success of author Raymond Queneau. Zazie explores colloquial language as opposed to 'standard' written French, a distinction that is particularly marked in French, where correct language usage is governed by an official academy. The first word of the book, the neologism Doukipudonktan is a phonetic transcription of D'où qu'il pue donc tant ? ("How come he stinks so much?"). In the English version of the novel, this is rendered as "Holifart watastink". In the movie version the English subtitle reads "Whozit who stinks?"


Provincial pre-teenager Zazie stays in Paris with her Uncle Gabriel (a female impersonator) for two days, while her mother spends some time with her lover. Zazie manages to evade her uncle's custody, and métro strike notwithstanding, sets out to explore the city on her own.

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In 1960 the book was adapted by Louis Malle into a film of the same name, starring Catherine Demongeot as Zazie and Philippe Noiret as Gabriel. In the film, Zazie is younger than in the book (where her mother is worried about Zazie's virginity). The book was also adapted for theatre and published as a comic book as well.

Publication details

  • ISBN 0-14-218004-1 (Penguin paperback, translated by Barbara Wright)
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