A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola; eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 346 pages of information about A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola;.
till 1898, when his son Emile identified himself with the cause of Dreyfus, and in the campaign of calumny that followed had to submit to the vilest charges against the memory of his father.  The old dossier was produced by the French Ministry of War, the officials of which did not hesitate to strengthen their case by the forgery of some documents and the suppression of others.  In view of these proved facts, and of the circumstance that Francois Zola, immediately after his resignation from the Foreign Legion, established himself as a civil engineer at Marseilles and prepared a scheme for new maritime docks there, and that in connection with this scheme he visited Paris repeatedly, obtaining private audiences with the King and interviewing statesmen, it must be held that the charges against him were of a venial nature, in no way warranting the accusations brought forward by the War Office nearly seventy years later to cast discredit on his son.  Nothing came of the Marseilles harbour scheme, and the same fate attended subsequent plans for the fortification of Paris.  Zola pere, who by this time had married, then turned his attention to a proposal to supply water to the town of Aix, in Provence, by means of a reservoir and canal.  He removed thither with his wife and child, and after many delays and disappointments ultimately signed an agreement for the construction of the works.  Even then further delays took place, and it was not till three years later that the work could be commenced.  But the engineer’s ill fortune still attended him, for one morning while he was superintending his workmen the treacherous mistral began to blow, and he took a chill, from the effects of which he died a few days afterwards.

The young widow, with her son Emile, then a child of seven, was left in poor circumstances, her only fortune being a claim against the municipality of Aix.  Fortunately her parents had some means, and came to her assistance during the years of fruitless struggle to establish the rights of her dead husband.  Emile had up to this time been allowed to run wild, and he had spent most of his time out of doors, where he acquired a love of the country which he retained in later years.  Even when he was sent to school he was backward, only learning his letters with difficulty and showing little inclination for study.  It was not till 1852, when he was twelve years sold, that his education really began.  By this time he was able to realize his mother’s financial position, and to see the sacrifices which were being made to send him as a boarder to the lycee at Aix.  His progress then became rapid, and during the next five years he gained many prizes.  Throughout all these years the struggle between Madame Zola and the municipality had gone on, each year diminishing her chance of success.  In the end her position became desperate, and finding it impossible to continue to reside at Aix, the little family removed to Paris in 1858.  Fortunately Emile was enabled by the

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A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola; from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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