Short summary - Tartarin of Tarascon - Alphonse Daudet

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Tartarin of Tarascon
Alphonse Daudet

186 * year, the country is ruled by Napoleon III, everyone who can prosper. In the small town of Tarascon, in the south of France, the great hunter Tartarin lives, in whose garden baobabs and other exotic trees grow. The passion for hunting is shared by all Tartarin's fellow citizens, and although the game in the vicinity has long disappeared, every Sunday the Tarasconians arm themselves to the teeth and go out of town, where they shoot at their caps - to the delight of local hats.
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As a cap hunter, Tartarin is unmatched, and the Tarasconians honor him as their leader. And only two "completely different natures" of the hero do not allow him to turn around. Possessing the soul of Don Quixote, Tartarin, having read the novels of Gustav Aimard and Fenimore Cooper, is eager for exploits, but Sancho Panza's "well-fed" and loving comfort short-legged body prevents the implementation of great plans. Therefore, Tartarin lives in Tarascon. However, one day he almost leaves for Shanghai. The thought of such a possibility so shocks our hero that for a long time he talks exclusively about Shanghai and the dangers of life there, which is why soon everyone in the city thinks that he has already been there. After all, in fact, what difference does it make whether he actually made this journey or not, the main thing is to tell everything well!
After a while, Tartarin performs the second feat that glorified him - he tames the fierce Atlas lion from the menagerie of the visiting circus. The lion, sitting in a cage, roars menacingly at the hero, but he is unshakable like a rock. Delighted spectators gasp, and rumors spread throughout the city that Tartarin is going to Africa to hunt lions.
But time passes, and Tartarin still does not leave. City boys cheekily chant verses that question the bravery of the great hunter. And poor Tartarin-Don Quixote, despite the fierce resistance of Tartarin-Sancho, decides to go.
And then a solemn day comes. Tarasconians pour out into the streets from early morning in order to see how their fellow countryman departs for the country of lions. In Algerian costume and a huge fez, Tartarin stands majestically behind his luggage, which consists of many boxes, bales and various newfangled hunting devices.
On December 1, the fearless Tartarin arrives at the port of Marseilles and is loaded onto the Zouave packet boat, sailing to Algeria.
During the voyage, when everyone around is drinking champagne and playing cards, the valiant Tartarin in his cabin toils from seasickness. Finally, the ship lands on the shore, and Tartarin rises to the deck. Here he met a Montenegrin prince, who recommends himself as an expert in local customs and the Arabic language. While Tartarin is looking around, Negro porters climb onto the deck, and Tartarin, mistaking them for corsairs, rushes at them with a dagger. Captain Bar-basu explains his mistake to the angry hero.
Going ashore, Tartarin experiences the most severe disappointment: instead of a fabulous city, he sees the usual houses, pavement, coffee shops, where there are full of military men and ladies of easy virtue. It seems to him that he never left France. Tired of moving and impressions, Tartarin, accompanied by porters, goes to the hotel, falls on the bed and falls asleep like a dead man.
The next day, the hero wakes up with the determination to go hunting. With difficulty making his way through the streets crowded with carts and camels, he goes out of the city, where he meets the hunters. But alas! - their bags are stuffed with rabbits and snipe, and no one has heard of lions. Until dark, Tartarin wanders through the wild desert, overgrown with bizarre plants that look like bristling animals. At night, the great hunter, wanting to lure the lion, overcomes fear and bleats like a goat. And then a silhouette of a huge beast appears next to him. The tartarin fires, and a dull roar is heard in response. Taking a fighting stance, Tartarin waits for the lioness, but she does not appear.
While Tartarin is trying to set up an improved tent, it begins to dawn, and with the first rays of the sun, the hunter discovers that he is located among the beds of artichokes, and not far from him lies a donkey he killed at night, called by the locals "lop-eared". The angry mistress of the donkey is in a hurry to Tartarin, and our hero hardly pays off her.
The first failure does not discourage Tartarin. But soon he forgets about any living creatures for a long time, because he falls in love with a berbery. All day he prowls around the city, trying to find his beautiful stranger, “about whom he knows nothing except the smell of shoes and the color of her eyes! Only a madly in love Tarasconian is able to dare such an adventure. "
Suddenly, Providence comes to the aid of Tartarin in the form of the Montenegrin prince Gregory, for whom our hero pays the card debt. The prince is looking for the Mauritanian Tartarin. The girl's name is Baia, she does not speak French, she is guarded by a ferocious brother, who must be appeased by buying more pipes from him. Tartarin buys pipes in boxes, and he is admitted into the house of a beautiful Mauritanian woman. True, she seems to Tartarin somewhat thicker and smaller in stature than the beauty that struck his imagination, but in general she is also not bad.
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Tartarin rents a house for his beloved, and from now on his life is filled with "hookah, sauna and love." Since the girl does not speak French, only local residents and Prince Gregory come to visit them. They all eat Tartarin jam, smoke his tobacco and take their leave in the evening.
One day, driving past a coffee shop, Tartarin notices Captain Barbasa. The captain expresses the seditious idea that Bahia speaks excellent French, and at the same time advises Tartarin to stay away from the Montenegrin princes. From the snippet of newspaper received from the captain, the fearless hunter learns how saddened Tarascon is by the lack of news about his great countryman. And by the way, where are the skins of the lions?
After reading the note, the Tarasconian turns pale: Don Quixote awakens in him. Tartarin takes off his turban and shoes and in a creaky stagecoach goes to the south of the country - to hunt lions! Having landed in one of the villages, he finally encounters a lion - an old sick animal, holding a begging bowl in its teeth. Seized with righteous anger, Tartarin wants to free the proud beast, but then the negroes come running with clubs, and only Prince Gregory, who has come out of nowhere, rescues the unlucky Tarascon man from the scrapes.
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The next day, Tartarin, accompanied by the prince, sets off to hunt lions. For his many luggage, Tartarin has to buy a camel. Our hero goes further and further south, but the lions are gone. In every village festivities are held for him, for which he pays the bills. Finally, Tartarin arranges a night ambush in an oleander grove, and so that the lion, in case of an attack, does not accidentally tear his wallet, the Tarasconian gives it to the prince to preserve. In the morning, only a camel awaits at the Tartarin camp. The prince disappeared along with the purse. “For a whole month, His Highness has been waiting for such an opportunity.” Tartarin is shocked, but then a lion jumps out at him. Bang! Bang! Done ... Alas, it was the same lion that collected donations.
The trial begins. Tartarin gets acquainted with another side of the life of Algeria - with the world of judges and suspicious solicitors who do their business in cheap coffee houses. The unfortunate lion fighter is sentenced to a fine and, in order to scrape together money, sells his luggage. After paying the fine, Tartarin is left with only the skin of a lion and a camel. After carefully packing the skin, he sends it to Tarascon. Attempts to sell the camel are unsuccessful.
Tartarin goes on foot to Algeria, the camel faithfully follows him. The closer the hero comes to the city, the more he wants to get rid of the camel. Finally he manages to hide from him.
In the city, he goes to the house of his beauty, where another surprise awaits him: Captain Barbasu is sitting in the courtyard, and next to him is Bahia, who does not know, as he was assured, not a word in French, cheerfully sings French verses ...
Barbasu informs Tartarin, that his prince went to prison for fraud, so that the great hunter will obviously not return his money, However, the kindest Barbas agrees to take the hero to Marseilles. Climbing on deck, Tartarin sees his faithful dromedary sailing behind him to the ship. Moved by this sight, the captain takes the animal on board.
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After disembarking in Marseille, Tartarin goes to the station and gets on the train. Looking out the window, he discovers that his camel is racing next to the train. Oh, woe to Tartarin! He returns from the expedition without a single sou ... but with a camel!
As soon as Tartarin gets off the train in his native Tarascon, the vaults of the station are announced with a welcoming roar: "Long live Tartarin - the fighter of lions!" The reason for all this hype is the skin of a blind lion, so successfully sent by Tartarin to his homeland ... The hero instantly cheers up, patronizingly slaps the dromedary who has made his way to him and proudly walks home, surrounded by admiring cap-hunters. And already on the way, he begins to talk about his extraordinary adventures ...