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Zola was born in Paris in 1840. He 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.
Perhaps his most famous work, Emile Zola's Therese Raquin is a dark and gripping story of lust, violence and guilt, set in the gloomy back streets of Paris. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Robin Buss. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Therese Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille. The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband's earthy friend Laurent, but their animal passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Therese Raquin caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and brought its twenty-seven-year-old author a notoriety that followed him throughout his life. Zola's novel is not only an uninhibited portrayal of adultery, madness and ghostly revenge, but also a devastating exploration of the darkest aspects of human existence. Robin Buss's translation superbly conveys Zola's fearlessly honest and matter-of-fact style. In his introduction, he discusses Zola's life and literary career, and the influence of art, literature and science on his writing. This edition also includes the preface to the second edition of 1868, a chronology, further reading and notes.
'There's something of everything there, the best and the worst, the vulgar and the sublime, flowers, muck, tears, laughter, the river of life itself' Pascal Rougon has served as a doctor in the rural French town of Plassans for thirty years. He lives a quiet life with his faithful servant Martine and young niece Clotilde. Pascal is a man of science, striving to find the ultimate cure for all diseases. This puts him at odds with his niece, who is horrified by his denial of religious faith. Clotilde also distrusts Pascal's lifelong ambition to create a family tree on scientific principles, based upon his theories of heredity. Tensions in the household are fuelled by Pascal's scheming mother, Felicite, as the final episode in the great Rougon-Macquart saga plays out. Dr Pascal is the passionate conclusion to Zola's twenty-novel sequence, and the most eloquent expression of the ideas on heredity and human progress that have underpinned it. Human relations are at its heart, as Pascal and Clotilde are bound ever closer by ties of family and love.
'She was the golden beast, an unconscious force, the very scent of her could bring the world to ruin.' Nana, daughter of a drunk and a laundress, is the Helen of Troy of Paris. A sexually magnetic high-class prostitute and actress, she becomes a celebrity, rapidly conquering society, ruining all men who fall under her spell-especially Count Muffat, Chamberlain to the Empress. Nana herself meets a terrible fate, consumed by her own dissipation and extravagance, just as the disastrous war with Prussia is declared. Nana is the ninth instalment in the twenty volume Rougon-Macquart series. The novel opens in 1867, the year of the World Fair, when Paris, thronged by a cosmopolitan elite, was la Ville Lumiere, the glittering setting-and object-of Zola's scathing denunciation of society's hypocrisy and moral corruption. Nana comes to symbolize the Second Empire regime itself in all its excesses; but in the final chapters, the narrator seems to suggest that the coming disaster is not so much a result of the corruption of the Empire, as of rampant female sexuality.