The Fortune of the Rougons: A Realistic Novel

The Fortune of the Rougons: A Realistic Novel

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The Fortune of the Rougons: A Realistic Novel

The Fortune of the Rougons: A Realistic Novel

Read FREE!

Synopsis

I had been collecting documents for this vast work for about three years, and the present volume was, indeed, already written, when the fall of the Bonapartes— which was essential to complete my picture, and which, with a kind of fatality, always turned up at the end of the drama—came to my aid, though I had not dared to expect it so near, to supply the terrible and necessary issue of my work. The latter is now complete; it moves in a finished circle; it becomes the picture of a defunct reign, of a strange epoch of folly and shame.

This work, which will comprise several episodes, embodies in my mind the natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire. And the first episode, “The Fortune of the Rougons,” may, for scientific purposes, be very aptly entitled “The Origin.”

EMILE ZOLA.

Excerpt

I have determined on prefixing to this volume the Genealogical Tree of the Rougon-Macquart family, and I have been prompted to this decision by two reasons.

Firstly: the requests to have an adequate sketch of this Tree have been very numerous, in so far as it would allow my readers to thread their way through a maze of details concerning the many members of the family of which I have constituted myself the historian.

My second reason is somewhat more complicated. It is a regret to me that I did not give this Genealogical Tree to the world in the first volume of the series, as its publication would have permitted my plan being grasped at a glance. Were I to withhold it longer, I should be accused in the end of having furbished it up after the event. It is time enough to put on record the fact that it was conceived as it stands in 1868, before I had written a single line, and that it was clearly pictured forth in the first of these fictions, published under the title of “La Fortune des Rougons,” in which I could not well depict the original representatives of the family, till I had settled, before everything, its branches and offshoots. the difficulty was all the greater as the idiosyncracies of four generations were to be contrasted, and my characters were to enact their parts within a period of only eighteen years.

The publication of this Tree will be my answer to such as charge me with a persistent leaning to undue realism and vicious detail. Since 1868 I have been embodying the conception I then outlined, and in this Genealogical Tree I have laid down the broad lines from which I have swerved neither to right nor to left. To it I must yield my undivided attention; it is at once my incentive and my guide. Its results are not attained fortuitously; it contains what I have schemed out and what I am busily realising.

It now remains for me to say that circumstances only . . .

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