Tricky Note:
Vase
10 April 2019

¶ Early on in Huxley’s Crome Yellow, which I’m re-reading, a poet muses on the French sentence, “Le galbe évasé de ses hanches.” I had to look up the words! Until I did, it sounded gnomic, rather like “Le Prince d’Aquitaine à sa tour abolie.” (I still don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. Is the tower there or not?) It turns out to be rather more prosaic. As the poet wonders, is there a French novel that doesn’t contain the statement? The flared curve of her hips.

How I got this far without having so much as seen the word “galbe” — which I’d have taken for the name of some priestly vestment (how lazy!) — I have no idea. I knew that hanches meant “haunches” — but I don’t really know what haunches are, or didn’t until now. As for évasé, I ought to have known that one. I suppose it’s related to le vase, “vase.” I specify the article because la vase is “muck.” I wonder how many French hostesses have been asked to put fresh-cut flowers in some filth. 

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