From Dreyfus to Petain: The Struggle of a Republic

By Wilhelm Herzog; Walter Sorell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

ZOLA: HIS BACKGROUND

EMILE ZOLA was born in 1840 in Paris, during the reign of Louis Philippe. At that time the great men of letters were Balzac, Stendhal, Victor Hugo, Musset, Michelet, Dumas, Mérimée, St. Beuve, and Sue. Zola spent his youth in Aix. He used to roam through the miraculous land of Provence with Cézanne and Baille, who were both his age.

From 1860 to 1862 he lived in the greatest poverty in Paris, where he and Cézanne occupied the attic of the house at 35, Rue Saint Victor. He lived on water, bread, and fried sparrows which he himself caught. He found employment as a shipping clerk with Hachette, the book-sellers, in 1862. He began to write theatrical reviews and, with a journalist, a melodramatic play, The Secrets of Marseille.

Flaubert Madame Bovary, published in 1860, had the greatest effect on the more serious and gifted writers of the young generation. Zola reported it in an essay (dedicated to Flaubert) which came out fifteen years later: "The publication of Madame Bovary created a strong literary movement. The formula of the modern novel merely sketchily hinted at in Balzac's monumental work became evident with limpid clarity in the 400 pages of a single book. Only now we possess the law of a new art in black and white. Madame Bovary shows such clarity and such perfection in its manner of expression that we can consider this novel the prototype and guiding model of the entire movement." And the young Zola who confessed to having feasted on Flaubert time and again was shaken by Madame Bovary. This book determined his development.

From now on, it was Zola's opinion, novelists needed only to follow the opened-up path to display their individual temperament and to reproduce their personal sentiments. Although second-rate writers continued their business making money out of tedious stories, "that dozen authors whose specialty it was to amuse the ladies, could not avoid sweet presentations. But all beginners of some im-

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From Dreyfus to Petain: The Struggle of a Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I - A Struggle of Dauntless Courage 1
  • Chapter 2 - Six Phases of the Dreyfus Affair 4
  • Chapter 3 - French Nationalism and the Catholic Church 18
  • Chapter 4 - French Anti-Semitism at the Turn of the Century 25
  • Chapter - Captain Alfred Dreyfus 59
  • Chapter 6 - The Generals of the Republic 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Alarmed Bourgeoisie 79
  • Chapter 8 - Clemenceau 85
  • Chapter 9 - Zola: His Background 111
  • Chapter 10 - Zola as a Fighter 120
  • Chapter 11 - Zola on Trial 137
  • Chapter 12 - Zola in Exile 151
  • Chapter 13 - Jaures 160
  • Chapter 14 - Picquart 176
  • Chapter 15 - Esterhazy 197
  • Chapter 16 - Von Schwartzkoppen 220
  • Chapter 17 - The German Side of the Affair 227
  • Chapter 18 - The Struggle Never Ends 254
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index 307
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