When Jean Macquart arrives in the peasant community of Beauce, where farmers have worked the same land for generations, he quickly finds himself involved in the corrupt affairs of the local Fouan family. Aging and Lear-like, Old Man Fouan has decided to divide his land between his three children: his penny-pinching daughter Fanny, his eldest son - a far from holy figure known as 'Jesus Christ' - and the lecherous Buteau, Macquart's friend. But in a community where land is everything, sibling rivalry quickly turns to brutal hatred, as Buteau declares himself unsatisfied with his lot. Part of the vast Rougon-Macquart cycle, The Earth was regarded by Zola as his greatest novel. A fascinating portrayal of a struggling but decadent community, it offers a compelling exploration of the destructive nature of human ignorance and greed
Conservative and working-class, Jean Macquart is an experienced, middle-aged soldier in the French army, who has endured deep personal loss. When he first meets the wealthy and mercurial Maurice Levasseur, who never seems to have suffered, his hatred is immediate. But after they are thrown together during the disastrous Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the pair are compelled to understand one other. Forging a profound friendship, they must struggle together to endure a disorganised and brutal war, the savage destruction of France's Second Empire and the fall of Napoleon III. One of the greatest of all war novels, The Debacle is the nineteenth novel in Zola's great Rougon-Macquart cycle. A forceful and deeply moving tale of close friendship, it is also a fascinating chronicle of the events that were to lead, in the words of Zola himself, to 'the murder of a nation'.
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About Nana by Emile Zola
Nana is a novel by the French naturalist author Emile Zola. Completed in 1880, Nana is the ninth installment in the 20-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series, which was to tell "The Natural and Social History of a Family under the Second Empire." The novel was an immediate success. Le Voltaire, the French newspaper that was to publish it in installments from October 1879 on, had launched a gigantic advertising campaign, raising the curiosity of the reading public to a fever pitch. When Charpentier finally published Nana in book form in February 1880, the first edition of 55,000 copies was sold out in one day. Flaubert and Edmond de Goncourt were full of praise for Nana. On the other hand, a part of the non-reading public, spurred on by some critics, reacted to the book with outrage. While the novel is held up as a fine example of writing, it is not especially true to Zola's touted naturalist philosophy; instead, it is one of the most symbolically complex of his novels, setting it apart from the earthy "realism" of L'Assommoir or the more brutal "realism" of La Terre (1887). However, it was a great deal more authentic than most contemporary novels about the demimonde. Nana is especially noted for the crowd scenes, of which there are many, in which Zola proves himself a master of capturing the incredible variety of people. Whereas in his other novels -- notably Germinal (1885) -- he gives the reader an amazingly complete picture of surroundings and the lives of characters, from the first scene we are to understand that this novel treads new ground. Flaubert summed up the novel in one perfect sentence: (Nana turns into myth, without ceasing to be real.)
Considered by André Gide to be one of the ten greatest novels in the French language, Germinal is a brutal depiction of the poverty and wretchedness of a mining community in northern France under the second empire. At the centre of the novel is Etienne Lantier, a handsome 21 year-old mechanic, intelligent but with little education and a dangerous predisposition to murderous, alcoholic rage. Germinal tells the parallel story of Etienne's refusal to accept what he appears destined to become, and of the miners' difficult decision to strike in order to fight for a better standard of life.
The Ladies Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) recounts the rise of the modern department store in late nineteenth-century Paris. The store is a symbol of capitalism, of the modern city, and of the bourgeois family: it is emblematic of changes in consumer culture and the changes in sexual attitudes and class relations taking place at the end of the century. This new translation of the eleventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle captures the spirit of one of Zola's greatest works.
Here is a true publishing event–the first modern translation of a lost masterpiece by one of fiction’s giants. Censored upon publication in 1871, out of print since the 1950s, and untranslated for a century, Zola’s The Kill (La Curée) emerges as an unheralded classic of naturalism. Second in the author’s twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart saga, it is a riveting story of family transgression, heedless desire, and societal greed.
The incestuous affair of Renée Saccard and her stepson, Maxime, is set against the frenzied speculation of Renée’s financier husband, Aristide, in a Paris becoming a modern metropolis and “the capital of the nineteenth century.” In the end, setting and story merge in actions that leave a woman’s spirit and a city’s soul ravaged beyond repair. As vividly rendered by Arthur Goldhammer, one of the world’s premier translators from the French, The Kill contains all the qualities of the school of fiction marked, as Henry James wrote, by “infernal intelligence.”
In this new incarnation, The Kill joins Nana and Germinal on the shelf of Zola classics, works by an immortal author who–explicit, pitiless, wise, and unrelenting–always goes in for the kill.
From the Hardcover edition.
One of Zola's most famous realistic novels, Therese Raquin is a clinically observed, sinister tale of adultery and murder among the lower classes in nineteenth-century Parisian society.
Set in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop in the passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, this powerful novel tells how the heroine and her lover, Laurent, kill her husband, Camille, but are subsequently haunted by visions of the dead man and prevented from enjoying the fruits of their crime.
Zola's shocking tale dispassionately dissects the motivations of his characters--mere "human beasts", who kill in order to satisfy their lust--and stands as a key manifesto of the French Naturalist movement, of which the author was the founding father. Published in 1867, this is Zola's most important work before the Rougon-Macquart series and introduces many of the themes that can be traced through the later novel cycle.
Excerpt from The Conquest of Plassans
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L'Assommoir est un roman d'Émile Zola publié en feuilleton dès 1876 dans Le Bien public, puis dans La République des Lettres1 avant sa sortie en livre en 1877 chez Georges Charpentier. C'est le septième volume de la série Les Rougon-Macquart. C'est un ouvrage totalement consacré au monde ouvrier et, selon Zola, « le premier roman sur le peuple, qui ne mente pas et qui ait l'odeur du peuple »2. L'écrivain y restitue la langue et les mœurs des ouvriers, tout en décrivant les ravages causés par la misère et l'alcoolisme. À sa parution, l'ouvrage suscite de vives polémiques car il est jugé trop cru. Mais c'est ce réalisme qui, cependant, provoque son succès, assurant à l'auteur fortune et célébrité.
In his three short stories, 'For a Night of Love', 'Nantas', and 'Fasting', Emile Zola presents characters in search of fulfilment ? romantic, religious, and financial. Read together, For a Night of Love is an extraordinary depiction of sexual mores. When the apparently angelic Th(r)r se commits murder, she offers sexual favours to a petty clerk if he will dispose of the body; the pregnant Flavie manipulates a neighbour's interest in her dowry to arrange a shotgun wedding; churchgoing women find their hunger for Christianity unsatisfied by a vapid priest ? these beautiful and poignant stories are united by the powerful themes of deception and dissatisfaction. "
A wonderful collection of surreal stories from French master Emile Zola given a fresh new translation. Zola is best known for his novels Nana and Germinal.
The Flood, along with the complementary stories presented here, the celebrated Blood and Three Wars, is a fascinating example of Zola experimenting with surrealist styles, in a departure from the dark realism for which he is more commonly known. The eternal theme of man versus nature writ large, it is a timely reminder of our fragility and impermanence before the unyielding elements.
Louis Roubien has much to be thankful for. Now an old man, the head of a large family, his many hard years of work on the land have transformed him from a peasant farmer into a prosperous and satisfied freeholder, distributing his largesse among his relatives and the local community. But with success has come hubris, and when the rains, hitherto a harbinger of plenty, come, and the banks of the River Garonne swell and burst, Roubien sees everything for which he has striven swept away by the raging waters of the flood. His livelihood taken from him in one fell blow, it remains to be seen whether Roubien will at least be left his life, and the lives of those he holds dear.
Part of Emile Zola’s multigenerational Rougon-Macquart saga, The Belly of Paris is the story of Florent Quenu, a wrongly accused man who escapes imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Returning to his native Paris, Florent finds a city he barely recognizes, with its working classes displaced to make way for broad boulevards and bourgeois flats. Living with his brother’s family in the newly rebuilt Les Halles market, Florent is soon caught up in a dangerous maelstrom of food and politics. Amid intrigue among the market’s sellers–the fishmonger, the charcutière, the fruit girl, and the cheese vendor–and the glorious culinary bounty of their labors, we see the dramatic difference between “fat and thin” (the rich and the poor) and how the widening gulf between them strains a city to the breaking point.
Translated and with an Introduction by the celebrated historian and food writer Mark Kurlansky, The Belly of Paris offers fascinating perspectives on the French capital during the Second Empire–and, of course, tantalizing descriptions of its sumptuous repasts.
From the Trade Paperback edition.