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The Zola Affair

by
March 2008, no. 299

The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola edited by Brian Nelson

CUP, $49.95 pb, 218 pp

The Zola Affair

by
March 2008, no. 299

‘Why read Emile Zola?’ asks one of the contributors to this volume. ‘Because his representation of society’s impact on individuals within it memorably depicts what it means to be a human being in the modern world.’ The publication of The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola, edited by Brian Nelson, Professor of French Studies at Monash University, will be of great assistance in reading and rereading this realist writer, and will doubtless become an indispensable tool for researchers and students.

What do these essays reveal? The fascination which the naturalist novelist Zola (1840–1902) still exercises on his readers because of the profoundly organic nature of his writing. Despite the meticulous planning and the scientific method and framework underlying his enterprise to describe the social and familial milieux (the subtitle of the twenty novels [1871–93] comprising Les Rougon-Macquart is The Natural and Social History of a Family under the Second Empire), Zola’s art stems from its evocative power, its descriptive force, in a word, its ‘excitement’.

Françoise Grauby reviews 'The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola' edited by Brian Nelson

The Cambridge Companion to Emile Zola

edited by Brian Nelson

CUP, $49.95 pb, 218 pp

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