The Fortune of the Rougons

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Hayes Barton Press, Dec 29, 2015 - Fiction
1 Review

INTRODUCTION

"The Fortune of the Rougons" is the initial volume of the Rougon-Macquart series. Though it was by no means M. Zola's first essay in fiction, it was undoubtedly his first great bid for genuine literary fame, and the foundation of what must necessarily be regarded as his life-work. The idea of writing the "natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire," extending to a score of volumes, was doubtless suggested to M. Zola by Balzac's immortal "Comedie Humaine." He was twenty-eight years of age when this idea first occurred to him; he was fifty-three when he at last sent the manuscript of his concluding volume, "Dr. Pascal," to the press. He had spent five-and-twenty years in working out his scheme, persevering with it doggedly and stubbornly, whatever rebuffs he might encounter, whatever jeers and whatever insults might be directed against him by the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the hypocritical. Truth was on the march and nothing could stay it; even as, at the present hour, its march, if slow, none the less continues athwart another and a different crisis of the illustrious novelist's career....

 

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Review: The Fortune of the Rougons (Les Rougon-Macquart #1)

User Review  - Louis - Goodreads

Although I enjoyed this first in the Rougons -Macquart series of twenty books, I did not like it as much as others in th series.If you want to get to know Zola, try Germinal or The Beast Within. Read full review

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Contents

Section 1
2
Section 2
4
Section 3
30
Section 4
62
Section 5
99
Section 6
142
Section 7
192
Section 8
259

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About the author (2015)

About Emile Zola
Emile Zola (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was a French novelist, playwright, journalist, the best-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism, and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. 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 the renowned newspaper headline J'accuse. Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.

Works
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. 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.

After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the series called Les Rougon Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire.

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.

More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of 20 collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. 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. Set in France's Second Empire, the series traces the "environmental" influences of violence, alcohol, and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. The series examines two branches of a family - the respectable (that is, legitimate) Rougons and the disreputable (illegitimate) Macquarts - for five generations.

As he described his plans for the series, "I want to portray, at the outset of a century of liberty and truth, a family that cannot restrain itself in its rush to possess all the good things that progress is making available and is derailed by its own momentum, the fatal convulsions that accompany the birth of a new world."

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

From 1877, with the publication of l'Assommoir, Émile Zola became wealthy; he was better paid than Victor Hugo, for example. He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organized cultural dinners with Guy de Maupassant, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and other writers at his luxurious villa (worth 300,000 francs) in Médan, near Paris, after 1880. Germinal in 1885, then the three "cities" - Lourdes (1894), Rome (1896), and Paris (1897), established Zola as a successful author.

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, inspired by the concepts of heredity (Claude Bernard), social Manicheanism, and idealistic socialism, resonate with those of Nadar, Manet, and subsequently Flaubert.

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