Claude Lantier - The central character of the novel, THE MASTERPIECE, who is the driving force behind a group of friends set on modernizing art and literature to deal with reality.
Pierre Sandoz - He is the more or less the autobiographical counterpoint of Émile Zola himself. He is the eternal optimist and at the beginning believes that his group of friends will all succeed at their goals in various artistic fields.
Louis Dubuche - His field is architecture and he is a student at the École des Beaux-Arts, which is a school that is disparaged by the group for its insistence on imitating the classics and its outright rejection of anything new.
Malgras - He is a rather scruffy art dealer who knows nothing about art but has an eye for a piece that will turn a profit.
Henri Fagerolles - A true child of...
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