Émile Zola

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Émile Zola
Emile Zola 1902.jpg
Self-portrait, 1902
BornÉmile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola
(1840-04-02)2 April 1840
Paris, France
Died29 September 1902(1902-09-29) (aged 62)
Paris, France
Resting place Panthéon, Paris
OccupationNovelist, journalist, playwright, poet
Literary movement Naturalism
Notable works Les Rougon-Macquart , Thérèse Raquin , Germinal , Nana
SpouseÉléonore-Alexandrine Meley
Zola signature.svg

Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola ( /ˈzlə/ , [1] [2] also US: /zˈlɑː/ , [3] [4] French: [emilzɔla] ; 2 April 1840 29 September 1902) [5] was a French novelist, journalist, playwright, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. [6] He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in his renowned newspaper opinion headlined J'Accuse…! Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902. [7] [8]


Early life

Zola was born in Paris in 1840 to François Zola (originally Francesco Zolla) and Émilie Aubert. His father was an Italian engineer with some Greek ancestry, [9] who was born in Venice in 1795, and engineered the Zola Dam in Aix-en-Provence; his mother was French. [10] The family moved to Aix-en-Provence in the southeast when Émile was three years old. In 1845, five-year-old Zola was sexually molested by an older boy. [11] Two years later, in 1847, his father died, leaving his mother on a meager pension. In 1852, Zola entered the Collège Bourbon as a boarding student. He would later complain about poor nutrition and bullying in school. [12]

In 1858, the Zolas moved to Paris, where Émile's childhood friend Paul Cézanne soon joined him. Zola started to write in the romantic style. His widowed mother had planned a law career for Émile, but he failed his baccalauréat examination twice. [13] [14]

Before his breakthrough as a writer, Zola worked for minimal pay as a clerk in a shipping firm and then in the sales department for the publisher Hachette. [14] He also wrote literary and art reviews for newspapers. As a political journalist, Zola did not hide his dislike of Napoleon III, who had successfully run for the office of president under the constitution of the French Second Republic, only to use this position as a springboard for the coup d'état that made him emperor.

Later life

In 1862 Zola was naturalized as a French citizen.[ citation needed ] In 1865, he met Éléonore-Alexandrine Meley, who called herself Gabrielle, a seamstress, who became his mistress. [13] They married on 31 May 1870. [15] Together they cared for Zola's mother. [14] She stayed with him all his life and was instrumental in promoting his work. The marriage remained childless. Alexandrine Zola had a child before she met Zola that she had given up, because she was unable to take care of it. When she confessed this to Zola after their marriage, they went looking for the girl, but she had died a short time after birth.

In 1888, he was given a camera, but he only began to use it in 1895 and attained a near professional level of expertise. [16] Also in 1888, Alexandrine hired Jeanne Rozerot, a 21-year-old seamstress who was to live with them in their home in Médan. [17] The 48-year-old Zola fell in love with Jeanne and fathered two children with her: Denise in 1889 and Jacques in 1891. [18] After Jeanne left Médan for Paris, Zola continued to support and visit her and their children. In November 1891 Alexandrine discovered the affair, which brought the marriage to the brink of divorce.[ citation needed ] The discord was partially healed, which allowed Zola to take an increasingly active role in the lives of the children. After Zola's death, the children were given his name as their lawful surname. [19]


Zola early in his career Emile Zola by Carjat.jpg
Zola early in his career

During his early years, Zola wrote numerous short stories and essays, four plays, and three novels. Among his early books was Contes à Ninon, published in 1864. [9] With the publication of his sordid autobiographical novel La Confession de Claude (1865) attracting police attention, Hachette fired Zola. His novel Les Mystères de Marseille appeared as a serial in 1867. He was also an aggressive critic, his articles on literature and art appearing in Villemessant's journal L'Événement. [9] After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the series called Les Rougon-Macquart .

In Paris, Zola maintained his friendship with Cézanne, who painted a portrait of him with another friend from Aix-en-Provence, writer Paul Alexis, entitled Paul Alexis Reading to Zola.

Literary output

Paul Cezanne, Paul Alexis Reading to Emile Zola, 1869-1870, Sao Paulo Museum of Art Paul Cezanne - Paul Alexis Le um Manuscrito a Zola.jpg
Paul Cézanne, Paul Alexis Reading to Émile Zola, 1869–1870, São Paulo Museum of Art

More than half of Zola's novels were part of the twenty-volume Les Rougon-Macquart cycle, which details the history of a single family under the reign of Napoléon III. Unlike Balzac, who in the midst of his literary career resynthesized his work into La Comédie Humaine , Zola from the start, at the age of 28, had thought of the complete layout of the series.[ citation needed ] Set in France's Second Empire, in the context of Baron Haussmann's changing Paris, the series traces the environmental and hereditary influences of violence, alcohol, and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. The series examines two branches of the family—the respectable (that is, legitimate) Rougons and the disreputable (illegitimate) Macquarts—over five generations.

In the preface to the first novel of the series, Zola states, "I want to explain how a family, a small group of regular people, behaves in society, while expanding through the birth of ten, twenty individuals, who seem at first glance profoundly dissimilar, but who are shown through analysis to be intimately linked to one another. Heredity has its own laws, just like gravity. I will attempt to find and to follow, by resolving the double question of temperaments and environments, the thread that leads mathematically from one man to another." [20]

Although Zola and Cézanne were friends from childhood, they experienced a falling out later in life over Zola's fictionalised depiction of Cézanne and the Bohemian life of painters in Zola's novel L'Œuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886).

Captioned "French Realism", caricature of Zola in the London magazine Vanity Fair, 1880 Emile Francois Zola, Vanity Fair, 1880-01-24.jpg
Captioned "French Realism", caricature of Zola in the London magazine Vanity Fair , 1880

From 1877, with the publication of L'Assommoir , Émile Zola became wealthy; he was better paid than Victor Hugo, for example. [21] Because L'Assommoir was such a success, Zola was able to renegotiate his contract with his publisher Georges Charpentier to receive more than 14% royalties and the exclusive rights to serial publication in the press. [22] Subsequently, sales of L'Assommoir were even exceeded by those of Nana (1880) and La Débâcle (1892). [9] He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organised cultural dinners with Guy de Maupassant, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and other writers at his luxurious villa (worth 300,000 francs) [23] in Médan, near Paris, after 1880. Despite being nominated several times, Zola was never elected to the Académie française . [9]

Zola's output also included novels on population (Fécondité) and work (Travail), a number of plays, and several volumes of criticism. He wrote every day for around 30 years, and took as his motto Nulla dies sine linea ("not a day without a line").

The self-proclaimed leader of French naturalism, Zola's works inspired operas such as those of Gustave Charpentier, notably Louise in the 1890s. His works were inspired by the concept of heredity and milieu (Claude Bernard and Hippolyte Taine) [24] and by the realism of Balzac and Flaubert. [25] He also provided the libretto for several operas by Alfred Bruneau, including Messidor (1897) and L'Ouragan (1901); several of Bruneau's other operas are adapted from Zola's writing. These provided a French alternative to Italian verismo. [26]

He is considered to be a significant influence on those writers that are credited with the creation of the so-called new journalism: Wolfe, Capote, Thompson, Mailer, Didion, Talese and others. Tom Wolfe wrote that his goal in writing fiction was to document contemporary society in the tradition of John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, and Émile Zola.[ citation needed ]

Dreyfus affair

Front page cover of the newspaper L'Aurore for Thursday 13 January 1898, with the open letter J'Accuse...!, written by Emile Zola about the Dreyfus affair. The headline reads "I Accuse...! Letter to the President of the Republic"--Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History J'accuse.jpg
Front page cover of the newspaper L'Aurore for Thursday 13 January 1898, with the open letter J'Accuse…! , written by Émile Zola about the Dreyfus affair. The headline reads "I Accuse...! Letter to the President of the Republic"—Paris Museum of Jewish Art and History

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a French-Jewish artillery officer in the French army. In September 1894, French intelligence discovered someone had been passing military secrets to the German Embassy. Senior officers began to suspect Dreyfus, though there was no direct evidence of any wrongdoing. Dreyfus was court-martialed, convicted of treason, and sent to Devil's Island in French Guiana.

Lt. Col. Georges Picquart came across evidence that implicated another officer, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, and informed his superiors. Rather than move to clear Dreyfus, the decision was made to protect Esterhazy and ensure the original verdict was not overturned. Major Hubert-Joseph Henry forged documents that made it seem as if Dreyfus were guilty, while Picquart was reassigned to duty in Africa. However, Picquart's findings were communicated by his lawyer to the Senator Auguste Scheurer-Kestner, who took up the case, at first discreetly and then increasingly publicly. Meanwhile, further evidence was brought forward by Dreyfus's family and Esterhazy's estranged family and creditors. Under pressure, the general staff arranged for a closed court-martial to be held on 10–11 January 1898, at which Esterhazy was tried in camera and acquitted. Picquart was detained on charges of violation of professional secrecy.[ citation needed ]

In response Zola risked his career and more, and on 13 January 1898 published J'Accuse…! [27] on the front page of the Paris daily L'Aurore . The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to the president, Félix Faure. Zola's J'Accuse...! accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and antisemitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. Zola's intention was that he be prosecuted for libel so that the new evidence in support of Dreyfus would be made public. [28]

The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, deeply divided France between the reactionary army and Catholic Church on one hand, and the more liberal commercial society on the other. The ramifications continued for many years; on the 100th anniversary of Zola's article, France's Catholic daily paper, La Croix , apologised for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus affair. [29] As Zola was a leading French thinker and public figure, his letter formed a major turning point in the affair.[ citation needed ]

Portrait of Zola by Nadar, 3 March 1898 Nadar (atelier de) - Emile Zola, 13-556535.jpg
Portrait of Zola by Nadar, 3 March 1898

Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February and removed from the Legion of Honour. The first judgment was overturned in April on a technicality, but a new suit was pressed against Zola, which opened on 18 July. At his lawyer's advice, Zola fled to England rather than wait for the end of the trial (at which he was again convicted). Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July, the start of a brief and unhappy residence in the UK.

Zola visited historic locations including a Church of England service at Westminster Abbey. [30] After initially staying at the Grosvenor Hotel, Victoria, Zola went to the Oatlands Park Hotel in Weybridge and shortly afterwards rented a house locally called Penn where he was joined by his family for the summer. At the end of August, they moved to another house in Addlestone called Summerfield. In early October the family moved to London and then his wife and children went back to France so the children could resume their schooling. Thereafter Zola lived alone in the Queen's Hotel, Norwood. [31] He stayed in Upper Norwood from October 1898 to June 1899. [32]

In France, the furious divisions over the Dreyfus affair continued. The fact of Major Henry's forgery was discovered and admitted to in August 1898, and the Government referred Dreyfus's original court-martial to the Supreme Court for review the following month, over the objections of the General Staff. Eight months later, on 3 June 1899, the Supreme Court annulled the original verdict and ordered a new military court-martial. The same month Zola returned from his exile in England. Still the anti-Dreyfusards would not give up, and on 9 September 1899 Dreyfus was again convicted.

Dreyfus applied for a retrial, but the government countered by offering Dreyfus a pardon (rather than exoneration), which would allow him to go free, provided that he admit to being guilty. Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Later the same month, despite Zola's condemnation, an amnesty bill was passed, covering "all criminal acts or misdemeanours related to the Dreyfus affair or that have been included in a prosecution for one of these acts", indemnifying Zola and Picquart, but also all those who had concocted evidence against Dreyfus. Dreyfus was finally completely exonerated by the Supreme Court in 1906. [33]

Zola said of the affair, "The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it." [27] Zola's 1898 article is widely viewed in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the state. [34]

The Manifesto of the Five

On August 18, 1887, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro published "The Manifesto of the Five" shortly after La Terre was released. The signatories included Paul Bonnetain, J. H. Rosny, Lucien Descaves, Paul Margueritte and Gustave Guiches, who strongly disapproved of the lack of balance of both morals and aesthetics throughout the book's depiction of the revolution. The manifesto accused Zola of having "lowered the standard of Naturalism, of catering to large sales by deliberate obscenities, of being a morbid and impotent hypochondriac, incapable of taking a sane and healthy view of mankind. They freely referred to Zola's physiological weaknesses and expressed the utmost horror at the crudeness of La Terre." [35]


Zola on his deathbed Zola mort.jpg
Zola on his deathbed

Zola died on 29 September 1902 of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by an improperly ventilated chimney. [36] His funeral on 5 October was attended by thousands. Alfred Dreyfus initially had promised not to attend the funeral, but was given permission by Zola's widow and attended. [37] [38] At the time of his death Zola had just completed a novel, Vérité, about the Dreyfus trial. A sequel, Justice, had been planned, but was not completed.

Gravestone of Emile Zola at cimetiere Montmartre; his remains are now interred in the Pantheon. Grave of Emile Zola.JPG
Gravestone of Émile Zola at cimetière Montmartre; his remains are now interred in the Panthéon.

His enemies were blamed for his death because of previous attempts on his life, but nothing could be proven at the time. Expressions of sympathy arrived from everywhere in France; for a week the vestibule of his house was crowded with notable writers, scientists, artists, and politicians who came to inscribe their names in the registers. [39] On the other hand, Zola's enemies used the opportunity to celebrate in malicious glee. [40] Writing in L'Intransigeant , Henri Rochefort claimed Zola had committed suicide, having discovered Dreyfus to be guilty.

Zola was initially buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, but on 4 June 1908, just five years and nine months after his death, his remains were relocated to the Panthéon, where he shares a crypt with Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. [41] The ceremony was disrupted by an assassination attempt on Alfred Dreyfus by Louis Grégori  [ fr ], a disgruntled journalist and admirer of Edouard Drumont, in which Dreyfus was wounded in the arm by the gunshot. Grégori was acquitted by the Parisian court which accepted his defense that he had not meant to kill Dreyfus, meaning merely to graze him.

Graves of Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola at the Pantheon in Paris Pantheon Grablege Dumas Zola Hugo.jpg
Graves of Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Émile Zola at the Panthéon in Paris

A 1953 investigation by journalist Jean Bedel published in the newspaper Libération under the headline "Was Zola assassinated?" raised the idea that Zola's death might have been a murder rather than an accident. [42] It is based on the revelation by Norman pharmacist Pierre Hacquin, who was told by chimney-sweep Henri Buronfosse that he intentionally blocked the chimney of Zola's apartment in Paris. [42] Literary historian Alain Pagès believes that is likely true [43] and Zola's great-granddaughters, Brigitte Émile-Zola and Martine Le Blond-Zola, corroborate this explanation of Zola's poisoning by carbon monoxide. As reported in L'Orient-Le Jour , Brigitte Émile-Zola recounts that her grandfather Jacques Émile-Zola, son of Émile Zola, told her at the age of eight that, in 1952, a man came to his house to give him information about his father's death. The man had been with a dying friend, who had confessed to taking money to plug Emile Zola's chimney. [44]

Scope of the Rougon-Macquart series

Zola's Rougon-Macquart novels are a panoramic account of the Second French Empire. They tell the story of a family approximately between the years 1851 and 1871. These twenty novels contain over 300 characters, who descend from the two family lines of the Rougons and Macquarts. In Zola's words, which are the subtitle of the Rougon-Macquart series, they are "L'Histoire naturelle et sociale d'une famille sous le Second Empire" ("The natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire"). [45] [46]

Most of the Rougon-Macquart novels were written during the French Third Republic. To an extent, attitudes and value judgments may have been superimposed on that picture with the wisdom of hindsight. Some critics classify Zola's work, and naturalism more broadly, as a particular strain of decadent literature, which emphasized the fallen, corrupted state of modern civilization. [47] Nowhere is the doom-laden image of the Second Empire so clearly seen as in Nana , which culminates in echoes of the Franco-Prussian War (and hence by implication of the French defeat). [48] Even in novels dealing with earlier periods of Napoleon III's reign the picture of the Second Empire is sometimes overlaid with the imagery of catastrophe.[ citation needed ]

Poster by Leon Choubrac advertising the publication of Zola's novel Germinal in Gil Blas, 25 November 1884 Gil Blas - Germinal.jpg
Poster by Léon Choubrac advertising the publication of Zola's novel Germinal in Gil Blas , 25 November 1884

In the Rougon-Macquart novels, provincial life can seem to be overshadowed by Zola's preoccupation with the capital.[ citation needed ] However, the following novels (see the individual titles in the Livre de poche series) scarcely touch on life in Paris: La Terre (peasant life in Beauce), Le Rêve (an unnamed cathedral city), Germinal (collieries in the northeast of France), La Joie de vivre (the Atlantic coast), and the four novels set in and around Plassans (modelled on his childhood home, Aix-en-Provence), ( La Fortune des Rougon , La Conquête de Plassans , La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret and Le Docteur Pascal ).[ citation needed ] La Débâcle , the military novel, is set for the most part in country districts of eastern France; its dénouement takes place in the capital during the civil war leading to the suppression of the Paris Commune. Though Paris has its role in La Bête humaine the most striking incidents (notably the train crash) take place elsewhere. Even the Paris-centred novels tend to set some scenes outside, if not very far from, the capital. In the political novel Son Excellence Eugène Rougon , the eponymous minister's interventions on behalf of his so-called friends, have their consequences elsewhere, and the reader is witness to some of them. Even Nana, one of Zola's characters most strongly associated with Paris, makes a brief and typically disastrous trip to the country. [49]

Quasi-scientific purpose

In Le Roman expérimental and Les Romanciers naturalistes, Zola expounded the purposes of the "naturalist" novel. The experimental novel was to serve as a vehicle for scientific experiment, analogous to the experiments conducted by Claude Bernard and expounded by him in Introduction à la médecine expérimentale. Claude Bernard's experiments were in the field of clinical physiology, those of the Naturalist writers (Zola being their leader) would be in the realm of psychology influenced by the natural environment. [13] Balzac, Zola claimed, had already investigated the psychology of lechery in an experimental manner, in the figure of Hector Hulot in La Cousine Bette .[ citation needed ] Essential to Zola's concept of the experimental novel was dispassionate observation of the world, with all that it involved by way of meticulous documentation. To him, each novel should be based upon a dossier.[ citation needed ] With this aim, he visited the colliery of Anzin in northern France, in February 1884 when a strike was on; he visited La Beauce (for La Terre ), Sedan, Ardennes (for La Débâcle ) and travelled on the railway line between Paris and Le Havre (when researching La Bête humaine ). [50]


Edouard Manet, Portrait of Emile Zola, 1868, Musee d'Orsay Manet, Edouard - Portrait of Emile Zola.jpg
Édouard Manet, Portrait of Émile Zola, 1868, Musée d'Orsay

Zola strongly claimed that Naturalist literature is an experimental analysis of human psychology.[ citation needed ] Considering this claim, many critics, such as György Lukács, [51] find Zola strangely poor at creating lifelike and memorable characters in the manner of Honoré de Balzac or Charles Dickens, despite his ability to evoke powerful crowd scenes. It was important to Zola that no character should appear larger than life; [52] but the criticism that his characters are "cardboard" is substantially more damaging. Zola, by refusing to make any of his characters larger than life (if that is what he has indeed done), did not inhibit himself from also achieving verisimilitude.

Although Zola found it scientifically and artistically unjustifiable to create larger-than-life characters, his work presents some larger-than-life symbols which, like the mine Le Voreux in Germinal ,[ citation needed ] take on the nature of a surrogate human life. The mine, the still in L'Assommoir and the locomotive La Lison in La Bête humaine impress the reader with the vivid reality of human beings.[ citation needed ] The great natural processes of seedtime and harvest, death and renewal in La Terre are instinct with a vitality which is not human but is the elemental energy of life. [53] Human life is raised to the level of the mythical as the hammerblows of Titans are seemingly heard underground at Le Voreux, or as in La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret , the walled park of Le Paradou encloses a re-enactment—and restatement—of the Book of Genesis.[ citation needed ]

Zola's optimism

Luc Barbut-Davray, Portrait of Zola, oil on canvas, 1899 Luc Barbut Davray Zola.jpg
Luc Barbut-Davray, Portrait of Zola, oil on canvas, 1899

In Zola there is the theorist and the writer, the poet, the scientist and the optimist – features that are basically joined in his own confession of positivism;[ citation needed ] later in his life, when he saw his own position turning into an anachronism, he would still style himself with irony and sadness over the lost cause as "an old and rugged Positivist". [54] [55]

The poet is the artist in words whose writing, as in the racecourse scene in Nana or in the descriptions of the laundry in L'Assommoir or in many passages of La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret , Le Ventre de Paris and La Curée , vies with the colourful impressionistic techniques of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The scientist is a believer in some measure of scientific determinism – not that this, despite his own words "devoid of free will" ("dépourvus de libre arbitre"), [56] need always amount to a philosophical denial of free will. The creator of "la littérature putride", a term of abuse invented by an early critic of Thérèse Raquin (a novel which predates Les Rougon-Macquart series), emphasizes the squalid aspects of the human environment and upon the seamy side of human nature. [57]

The optimist is that other face of the scientific experimenter, the man with an unshakable belief in human progress.[ citation needed ] Zola bases his optimism on innéité and on the supposed capacity of the human race to make progress in a moral sense. Innéité is defined by Zola as that process in which "se confondent les caractères physiques et moraux des parents, sans que rien d'eux semble s'y retrouver"; [58] it is the term used in biology to describe the process whereby the moral and temperamental dispositions of some individuals are unaffected by the hereditary transmission of genetic characteristics. Jean Macquart and Pascal Rougon are two instances of individuals liberated from the blemishes of their ancestors by the operation of the process of innéité.[ citation needed ]


French language

Works translated into English

The 3 Cities

  1. Lourdes (1894)
  2. Rome (1896)
  3. Paris (1898)

The 4 Gospels

  1. Fruitfulness (1900)
  2. Work (1901)
  3. Truth (1903)
  4. Justice (Unfinished)


Modern Translations

The Rougon-Macquart (1993–2021)

  1. The Fortune of the Rougons (2012)
  2. His Excellency Eugène Rougon (2018)
  3. The Kill (2004)
  4. Money (2016)
  5. The Dream (2018)
  6. The Conquest of Plassans (2014)
  7. Pot Luck (1999)
  8. The Ladies Paradise/The Ladies' Delight (1995, 2001)
  9. The Sin of Abbé Mouret (2017)
  10. A Love Story (2017)
  11. The Belly of Paris (2007)
  12. The Bright Side of Life (2018)
  13. The Drinking Den (2000, 2021)
  14. The Masterpiece (1993)
  15. The Beast Within (1999)
  16. Germinal (2004)
  17. Nana (2020)
  18. The Earth (2016)
  19. The Debacle (2000)
  20. Doctor Pascal (2020)

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Life of Emile Zola is a 1937 American biographical film about the 19th-century French author Émile Zola starring Paul Muni and directed by William Dieterle.

<i>La Fortune des Rougon</i> Novel by Émile Zola

La Fortune des Rougon(The Fortune of the Rougons), originally published in 1871, is the first novel in Émile Zola's monumental twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. The novel is partly an origin story, with a large cast of characters - many of whom become the central figures of later novels in the series - and partly an account of the December 1851 coup d'état that created the French Second Empire under Napoleon III. The events are experienced through the eyes of a large provincial town in southern France. The title refers not only to the "fortune" chased by protagonists Pierre and Felicité Rougon, but also to the fortunes of the various disparate family members Zola introduces, whose lives are of central importance to later books in the series.

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<i>La Conquête de Plassans</i> 1874 novel by Émile Zola

La Conquête de Plassans (1874) is the fourth novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. In many ways a sequel to the first novel in the cycle, La Fortune des Rougon (1871), this novel is again centred on the fictional Provençal town of Plassans and its plot revolves around a sinister cleric's attempt at political intrigue with disastrous consequences for some of the townsfolk.

<i>Au Bonheur des Dames</i> 1882 novel by Émile Zola

Au Bonheur des Dames is the eleventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was first serialized in the periodical Gil Blas from December 17, 1882 to March 1, 1883; and published in novel form by Charpentier in 1883.

<i>Les Rougon-Macquart</i> Cycle of twenty novels by Émile Zola

Les Rougon-Macquart is the collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by French writer Émile Zola. Subtitled Histoire naturelle et sociale d'une famille sous le Second Empire, it follows the lives of the members of the two titular branches of a fictional family living during the Second French Empire (1852–1870) and is one of the most prominent works of the French naturalism literary movement.

<i>Le Ventre de Paris</i> 1873 novel by Émile Zola

Le Ventre de Paris (1873) is the third novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. It is set in and around Les Halles, the enormous, busy central market of 19th-century Paris. Les Halles, rebuilt in cast iron and glass during the Second Empire was a landmark of modernity in the city, the wholesale and retail center of a thriving food industry. Le Ventre de Paris is Zola's first novel entirely on the working class.

<i>La Faute de lAbbé Mouret</i> 1875 novel by Émile Zola

La Faute de l'Abbé Mouret (1875) is the fifth novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Viciously anticlerical in tone, it follows on from the horrific events at the end of La Conquête de Plassans, focussing this time on a remote Provençal backwater village.

<i>LAssommoir</i> 1877 Novel by Émile Zola

L'Assommoir, published as a serial in 1876, and in book form in 1877, is the seventh novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Usually considered one of Zola's masterpieces, the novel — a study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris — was a huge commercial success and helped establish Zola's fame and reputation throughout France and the world.

<i>Nana</i> (novel) 1880 novel by Émile Zola

Nana is a novel by the French naturalist author Émile Zola. Completed in 1880, Nana is the ninth installment in the 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series.

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Marie-Georges Picquart was a French Army officer and Minister of War. He is best known for his role in the Dreyfus affair, in which he played a key role in uncovering the real culprit.

<i>LŒuvre</i> Novel by Émile Zola

L'Œuvre is the fourteenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was first serialized in the periodical Gil Blas beginning in December 1885 before being published in novel form by Charpentier in 1886.

<i>La joie de vivre</i> 1883 novel by Émile Zola

La joie de vivre is the twelfth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was serialized in the periodical Gil Blas in 1883 before being published in book form by Charpentier in February 1884.

Une page d'amour is the eighth novel in the 'Rougon-Macquart' series by Émile Zola, set among the petite bourgeoisie in Second Empire suburban Paris. It was first serialised between December 11, 1877, and April 4, 1878, in Le Bien public, before being published in novel form by Charpentier in April 1878.

<i>Pot-Bouille</i> 1882 novel by Émile Zola

Pot-Bouille is the tenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was serialized between January and April 1882 in the periodical Le Gaulois before being published in book form by Charpentier in 1883.

Le Docteur Pascal is the twentieth and final novel of the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola, first published in June 1893 by Charpentier.

<i>JAccuse...!</i> 1898 open letter by Émile Zola

"J'Accuse...!" is an open letter, written by Émile Zola in response to the events of the Dreyfus affair, that was published on 13 January 1898 in the newspaper L'Aurore. Zola addressed the President of France, Félix Faure, and accused his government of antisemitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer who was sentenced to lifelong penal servitude for espionage. Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence. The letter was printed on the front page of the newspaper, and caused a stir in France and abroad. Zola was prosecuted for libel and found guilty on 23 February 1898. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to England, returning home in June 1899.

Ernest Alfred Vizetelly (1853–1922) was an English journalist and author.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henri Mitterand</span> French academic and writer (1928–2021)

Henri Mitterand was a French academic, author, critic, and editor. He was a specialist on the works of Émile Zola, one of the founders of sociological criticism in France.


  1. "Zola". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary .
  2. "Zola, Émile". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.[ dead link ]
  3. "Zola". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  4. "Zola". Collins English Dictionary . HarperCollins . Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  5. "Emile Zola Biography (Writer)". infoplease. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  6. Mitterand, Henri (2002). Zola et le naturalisme. Paris, France: Presses universitaires de France. p. 23. ISBN   978-2130525103.
  7. "Nomination Database – Literature – 1901". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  8. "Nomination Database – Literature – 1902". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Marzials, Frank Thomas (1911). "Zola, Émile Édouard Charles Antoine"  . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1001.
  10. Sacquin, Michèle; Cabannes, Viviane (2002). Zola et autour d'une oeuvre : Au bonheur des dames. Bibliothèque nationale de France. ISBN   9782717722161.
  11. Brown, Frederick (1995). Zola: A Life. Farrar Straus Giroux. p. 23. ISBN   0374297428. «It is described in a report filed by the Marseille police on April 3, 1845: "We conducted to the Palace of Justice a person named Mustapha, twelve years old, a native of Algiers and a domestic in the service of Monsieur Zola, civil engineer, number 4, rue de l'Arbre, who committed indecent assault [attentat à la pudeur] on the young Émile Zola, five years old."»
  12. Brown, Frederick (1995). Zola: A Life. Farrar Straus Giroux. p. 21 and 23. ISBN   0374297428. "During the six years I remained there, I was hungry." (page 21) and «"Let us remember how it was at secondary school. Vices had fertile ground, so that one lived in true Roman putrescence. Any cloistered association of people who belong to the same sex is morally reprehensible," he wrote in 1870, and the Goncourts report him lamenting on one occasion that "I had a perverted youth in wretched provincial school. Yes, a rotten childhood!"» (page 23)
  13. 1 2 3 Larousse, Émile Zola
  14. 1 2 3 Berg, William J. (24 September 2020). "Émile Zola | French author". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  15. Brown, Frederick (1995). Zola: A Life. Farrar Straus Giroux. p. 195. ISBN   0374297428.
  16. August, Marilyn (14 December 2000). "IN LATER YEARS, ZOLA SAW WORLD THROUGH A CAMERA". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. F-8 via ProQuest.
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  18. Brown, Frederick (1995). Zola: A Life. Farrar Straus Giroux. pp. 646–648. ISBN   0374297428.
  19. Brown, Frederick (1995). Zola: A Life. Farrar Straus Giroux. p. 802. ISBN   0374297428.
  20. Zola, Émile (1981). La Fortune des Rougon. Paris, France: Gallimard. p. 27.
  21. Zola, Émile (2005). The Three Cities Trilogy Complete: Lourdes, Rome and Paris. Library of Alexandria. ISBN   978-1-4655-2672-4.
  22. Martyn, Lyons (2011). Books : a living history. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum. p. 143. ISBN   9781606060834. OCLC   707023033.
  23. "Literary gossip". The Week: A Canadian Journal of Politics, Literature, Science and Arts. 1 (4): 61. 27 December 1883. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
  24. Zola, Émile (1902), Le Roman expérimental, Paris : Charpentier, pp. 1–53, retrieved 7 January 2021
  25. Mitterand, Henri (1986). Zola et le naturalisme. Presses universitaires de France.
  26. Richard Langham Smith (2001). "Zola, Emile". Grove Music Online (8th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-1-56159-263-0.
  27. 1 2 J'accuse letter at French wikisource
  28. "Correspondence Between Emile Zola and Imprisoned Alfred Dreyfus". Shapell Manuscript Foundation. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  29. "World News Briefs; French Paper Apologizes For Slurs on Dreyfus". The New York Times . Reuters. 13 January 1998. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  30. Vizetelly, Ernest Alfred (1904). "Émile Zola, Novelist and Reformer: An Account of His Life & Work".
  31. "Zola in Exile in Weybridge" (PDF). Weybridge Society Newsletter. Weybridge Society. Spring 2019. p. 24. Retrieved 13 February 2023 via weybridgesociety.org.uk.
  32. Watt, Peter (21 September 2017). "Zola's bicycle women" (blog). The Great Wen. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  33. Bridger, David; Wolk, Samuel (1 January 1976). The New Jewish Encyclopedia. Behrman House, Inc. p. 111. ISBN   978-0874411201.
  34. Swardson, Anne (14 January 1998). "The Dreyfus Affair's Living History". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 7 September 2022. Retrieved 7 September 2022. Because of Zola's article, ... the intellectual class was accorded the status it still holds as molder of public opinion.
  35. Boyd, Ernest (19 August 2013). "From the Stacks: "Realism in France"". The New Republic. ISSN   0028-6583 . Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  36. "The Strange Death of Emile Zola". History Today Volume 52. 9 September 2002. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  37. "Thousands March at Funeral of Émile Zola: Municipal Guards Line the Route to Preserve Order" . The New York Times. 6 October 1902.
  38. "From the archives The tragic death of M. Zola", 30 September 1902". The Guardian . 29 June 2002.
  39. Vizetelly, Ernest Alfred (1904). Émile Zola, Novelist and Reformer: An Account of His Life & Work. John Lane, the Bodley Head. p.  511.
  40. "Full text of 'Emile Zola Novelist And Reformer An Account Of His Life And Work'" . Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  41. "Paris Monuments Panthéon-Close up picture of the interior of the crypt of Victor Hugo (left) Alexandre Dumas (middle) Emile Zola (right)". ParisPhotoGallery. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  42. 1 2 Mounier-Kuhn, Angélique (8 August 2014). "L'asphyxie d'Émile Zola". Le Temps (in French). pp. 8–9. Hacquin, je vais vous dire comment Zola est mort. [...] Zola a été asphyxié volontairement. C'est nous qui avons bouché la cheminée de son appartement.[Hacquin, I'm going to tell you how Zola died. [...] Zola was asphyxiated on purpose. It was us who blocked the chimney of his apartment.]
  43. Pagès, Alain (2019). L'affaire Dreyfus : vérités et légendes. Paris: Perrin. ISBN   978-2262074944.
  44. Andréa, Alain E. (10 September 2019). "Émile Zola : ses arrière-petites-filles accusent..." L'Orient-Le Jour. Retrieved 6 September 2022. Brigitte Émile-Zola abonde dans le sens de M. Pagès. 'Je l'ai appris à 8 ans chez mon grand-père, le docteur Jacques Émile-Zola, fils d'Émile Zola, qui m'a élevée. En 1952, un homme s'est présenté chez mon grand-père pour lui donner une information sur la mort de son père. Il a raconté qu'il avait assisté un ami dans ses derniers instants. Celui-ci s'était confessé à lui en lui expliquant que, lorsqu'il était ouvrier sur un immeuble situé près de celui où habitait Zola, il avait été contacté par les antidreyfusards lui demandant de boucher la cheminée de la chambre de l'écrivain. Il avait été payé pour exécuter ce méfait. Donc Zola a bien été assassiné. Mon grand-père a transmis cette histoire à tous ses amis zoliens et j'ai fait de même toute ma vie.'[Brigitte Émile-Zola agrees with Mr. Pagès. "I learned about it at the age of 8 from my grandfather, Dr. Jacques Émile-Zola, son of Émile Zola, who raised me. In 1952, a man came to my grandfather's house to give him information about his father's death. He said that he had been present with a friend in his last moments. The friend confessed to him that when he was working on a building near the one where Zola lived, he was contacted by the antidreyfusards, who asked him to plug the chimney of the writer's room. He was paid to carry out the misdeed. So Zola was indeed murdered. My grandfather passed on this story to all his Zola friends and I have done the same all my life."]
  45. Cummins, Anthony (5 December 2015). "How Émile Zola made novels out of gutter voices and ultra-violence". The Daily Telegraph . London. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  46. "Rougon-Macquart cycle: Work by Zola". Encyclopædia Britannica . Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  47. Bernheimer, Charles (1999). "Unknowing Decadence". In Constable, Liz (ed.). Perennial Decay: On the Aesthetics and Politics of Decadence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 50–64.
  48. Nelson, Brian (15 February 2007). The Cambridge Companion to Zola. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   9781139827270.
  49. Zola, Émile (2003). Nana. Paris, France: Livre de poche. ISBN   978-2253003656.
  50. Garnett, A. F. (1 January 2005). Steel Wheels: The Evolution of the Railways and how They Stimulated and Excited Engineers, Architects, Artists, Writers, Musicians and Travellers. Cannwood. ISBN   9780955025709.
  51. György Lukács, Studies in European Realism. A Sociological Survey of the Writings of Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, Tolstoy, Gorki and Others, London: 1950, pp. 91–95.
  52. Émile Zola, Les Romanciers naturalistes, Paris: 1903, pp. 126–129.
  53. Letter from Émile Zola to Jules Lemaître, 14 March 1885.
  54. "Émile Zola to France's Young Generation (1893) – Positivism". 14 November 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2022.
  55. See Émile Zola's speech at the annual banquet of the Students' Association at the Hotel Moderne in Paris, 20 May 1893, published in English by The New York Times on 11 June 1893 at http://www.positivists.org.
  56. Émile Zola, Les Œuvres complètes, vol. 34, Paris: 1928, Thérèse Raquin , preface to 2nd edition, p. viii.
  57. Émile Zola, Les Œuvres complètes, vol. 34, Paris: 1928, Thérèse Raquin , preface to 2nd edition, p. xiv.
  58. Émile Zola, Les Œuvres complètes, vol. 22, Paris: 1928, Le Docteur Pascal , p. 38.
  59. Hitchens, Christopher (2001). Letters to a young contrarian. Basic Books. p. xiii. ISBN   9780465030323.
  60. "Stellar cast announced for Bill Gallagher's glittering new BBC One drama series The Paradise". BBC Media Centre. BBC. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  61. Holden, Stephen (29 March 2017). "Review: In 'Cézanne et Moi,' Zola and the Artist Are Pals. However ..." The New York Times . p. C8.

Further reading