The Fortune of the Rougons, by Emile Zola, translated by Brian Nelson

Reading Zola’s fascinating L’Ouevre (The Masterpiece)-

The Books of Émile Zola

The Fortune of the RougonsAfter I read Germinal a couple of years ago (see my review), Émile Zola became one of those authors that I really wanted to read more of, but it was not until I saw the BBC series based on The Ladies’ Paradiseand read the novel (see my review) that I decided to begin a long-term project to read them all. I’ve enjoyed reading this one, The Fortune of the Rougons, which puts the whole sequence into perspective.

With Les Rougon-Macquart, Zola apparently set out to emulate Balzac’s La Comedie Humaine but his 20-volume cycle differs in two significant ways: it consists of novels rather than short stories and novellas, and it focusses on a single family rather than a whole society. Zola believed in the fatalistic effects of heredity and environment, and so the novels trace three branches of the Rougon-Macquart family: the aspirational…

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