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

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 288 pages of information about A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola;.
became obsessed by an idea for a great picture, which would show the truth of his theories and cover his detractors with confusion.  By this time there is no doubt that his mind was becoming affected by repeated disappointments, and that the family virus was beginning to manifest itself in him.  Everything was now sacrificed to this picture; his little fortune was gradually encroached on, and his wife and child (he had married Christine some time after their return to Paris) were frequently without the necessaries of life.  Christine was, however, devoted to her husband, and did all she could to induce him to leave the picture, which she saw was increasing his mental disturbance.  This was becoming more serious, and in the death of his child he saw only the subject of a picture, L’Enfant Mort, which was exhibited at the Salon and was received with even more contempt than Plein Air.  Despite all the efforts of Christine, Claude returned to his intended masterpiece, and one morning, in despair of achieving his aims, hanged himself in front of the fatal picture.

As a study of artistic life the novel is full of interest.  There is little doubt that the character of Claude Lantier was suggested by that of Edouard Manet, the founder of the French Impressionist school, with whom Zola was on terms of friendship.  It is also certain that Pierre Sandoz, the journalist with an idea for a vast series of novels dealing with the life history of a family, was the prototype of Zola himself.

La Bete Humaine.

A novel dealing with railway life in France towards the close of the Second Empire.  The hero is Jacques Lantier, the second son of Gervaise Macquart and August Lantier (La Fortune des Rougon and L’Assommoir).  When his parents went to Paris with his two brothers, he remained at Plassans with his godmother, “Aunt Phasie,” who afterwards married Misard, a railway signalman, by whom she was slowly poisoned to secure a small legacy which she had concealed.  After Jacques had passed through the School of Arts and Crafts at Plassans he became a railway engine-driver, and entered the service of the Western Railway Company, regularly driving the express train between Paris and Havre.  He was a steady man and a competent engineer, but from his early youth he had been affected by a curious form of insanity, the desire to murder any woman of whom he became fond.  “It seemed like a sudden outburst of blind rage, an ever-recurring thirst to avenge some very ancient offences, the exact recollection of which escaped him.”  There was also in the employment of the railway company, as assistant station-master at Havre, a compatriot of Lantier named Roubaud, who had married Severine Aubry, the godchild of President Grandmorin, a director of the company.  A chance word of Severine’s roused the suspicions of Roubaud regarding her former relations with the President, and, driven to frenzy by jealousy, he compelled her to become his accomplice in the murder of Grandmorin in an express train between Paris and Havre.

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