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Émile Zola

(1840—1902) French novelist and critic


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(1840–1902),

the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction, of which Thérèse Raquin (1867) is his earliest example. The first volume (La Fortune des Rougon) of his principal work, Les Rougon‐Macquart, which he termed the ‘natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire’, appeared in 1871; in 19 more volumes (including L'Assommoir, 1877; Germinal, 1885; La Terre, 1887; La Bête humaine, 1890; La Débâcle, 1892), Zola produces an extraordinary panorama of mid‐19th‐cent. misery, poverty, and the violence of human instinct. Zola spent 11 months in exile in England (1898–9) as a result of his support of Dreyfus. His works were widely read in this country, but heavily censored, and his publisher Vizetelly was imprisoned in 1888 for publishing La Terre. He considerably influenced G. A. Moore, Bennett, and other realist writers.

Subjects: literature.


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