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About the Author: Émile Zola

Émile François Zola was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France.

More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of 20 books 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 broke in later life over Zola's fictionalized depiction of Cézanne and the Bohemian life of painters in his 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 in Medan near Paris after 1880. Germinal in 1885, then the three 'cities', Lourdes in 1894, Rome in 1896 and Paris in 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 manichaeism and idealistic socialism, resonate with those of Nadar, Manet and subsequently Flaubert.

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Goodreads rating: 4.04

, Published in Mar 2007 by GF - Flammarion

ISBN10: 2081202913 | ISBN13: 9782081202917

Des Batignolles à Auteuil, un mécanicien de locomotive erre, le couteau en main, hanté par une idée fixe : tuer une femme... Dans le train qui mène au Havre, un couple poignarde sauvagement un notable du régime impérial, avant de le jeter sur la voie. À la Croix-de-Maufras, lieu-dit reculé, un garde-barrière empoisonne son épouse, dans l'espoir de mettre enfin la main sur son magot.

La Bête humaine n'est pas seulement le grand roman ferroviaire du maître du naturalisme : c'est aussi son grand roman du crime - un Dahlia noir signé Zola, où chaque personnage semble être tour à tour le traqueur et la proie. En 1888, au moment d'entamer ce qui allait devenir l'un des volumes les plus célèbres du cycle des Rougon-Macquart, Zola écrivait : «Je voudrais quelque chose d'hallucinant, d'effroyable [...], qui reste à jamais dans la mémoire, qui donne un cauchemar à toute la France.»

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