A Zola Dictionary
Serge Mouret, the younger son of Francois Mouret (see La Conquete de Plassans), was ordained to the priesthood and appointed cure of Les Artaud, a squalid village in Provence, to whose degenerate inhabitants he ministered with small encouragement. He had inherited the family taint of the Rougon-Macquarts, which in him took the same form as in the case of his mother--a morbid religious enthusiasm bordering on hysteria. Brain fever followed, and bodily recovery left the priest without a mental past. Dr. Pascal Rougon, his uncle, hoping to save his reason, removed him from his accustomed surroundings and left him at the Paradou, the neglected demesne of a ruined mansion-house near Les Artaud, where he was nursed by Albine, niece of the caretaker.
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