Author's Preface (1871) When I discovered that Emile Zola wrote a 20-book series about the fictional families of Rougon and Macquart, I became obsessed. I asked them to purchase a copy because, as I pointed out, they have so many of the other Rougon-Macquart books, wouldn't they want the first book for their collection? (Note: Boyfriend may not have actually cared that much, other than he wanted to be able to put a smile on my face and get me to shut up about this damn Zola person, but that's probably beside the point. We I had Zola-vision, and I was going to find this book if it was the last thing I did. Our holiday came and went and despite all the stores we visited, no one had a copy of this damn book. My boyfriend had done what most people in the 21st-century do when they want something - he ordered it online for me. You have the Publication Order (1871-1893), but then you have the Recommended Reading Order, and they differ greatly. They both begin and end with the same books, and there are a couple in the middle that are in the same place, but for the most part they're way different. And then someone smarter than myself pointed out that the Recommended Reading Order was suggested by none other than Zola himself, but apparently not until he wrote the Introduction for the final book in the series. The Fortune of the Rougons was not Zola's first book in his literary career, so I can't say that it feels like a first book - but I can say that it feels a little unformed, a little dirty and raw around the edges.
Although a stand alone novel I realised that Germinal was part of a series featuring the Rougon - Macquart family. This novel is a little uneven (as is usual with the first book of a series) as Zola balances action, humour, politics and a love story ....... He examines how external influences (eg poverty and politics) mould the nature of the characters and describes these books as The Natural and Social History of a Family Under the Second Empire Like Dickens, Zola is quick to lampoon pompositity, vanity and ignorance but unlike Dickens the writing is naturalistic and the characters feel real, rather than caricatures.
work wants to be the mirror of contemporary society. I don't want to describe a contemporary society, but a single family, showing how the race is modified by the environment. Influenced as much by Balzac as he was by Charles Darwin, Zola wished to write stories which showed the natural progression of heredity; and to depict socio-cultural evolution as he understood it by applying "scientific method" to his writing. The construction of this novel is what astounds me even more than the message, for it is deftly composed, sensitively rendered, and as precise as any scientist in observing the vagaries of human nature. Do yourself a favour, and find a good translation, or read it in French, with a dictionary if you have to. I did read it in French because the only copy available to me in translation was by E. If, in depicting true, genetic heredity as a defining force in a person's evolution, Zola also depicts how people become products of their environment -- albeit, paradoxically, all the while that they are shaping their environment.
A brilliant book, a masterful translation and a compelling story that will make you want to read more of Zola and the Rougon-Macquart cycle. Let's hope that the other gaps in translation of some of the other novels of the cycle get a new breath of life.
I love Zolas writing, I have meant to read more of his Rougon-Macquart series, but I hadnt read anything for such a long time because I was wondering just how to set about it: I could carry on picking random books from the series as they could catch my eye. I found that my fears werent entirely unfounded: there were a lot of characters, there were many stories opening up, and I would have been lost quite early on had my book not had a family tree I could consult; and Im still not entirely sure about the political history or all of the implications of the story I read. Zolas writing about his characters and the world around them is so very vivid, and as I began to the roots and branches of this fictitious family tree I was intrigued by the possibilities it presented; for future stories and for what those stories might say. Then the story went back in time, recounting the recent history of Silvères family. She was courted by a farm worker named Rougon, she married him, and she gave birth to a son, Pierre. Pierre tricked his mother into signing over the family home to him, he sold it off, and he used the proceeds to set himself up in the world. I was so impressed by the portrayal of those family relationships and of how, together with circumstance, they affect the formation of character and the making of decisions; sometimes for good but often, it seems, for bad. That was something that I hadnt found in Zolas books before, and it balance the writing about the Rougons and the town beautifully.
The Fortune of the Rougons is my first full length novel by Emile Zola. This version of The Fortune of the Rougons was an 1898 translation by Vizetelly and by his own admission was highly edited from the original, and there was no other translation until Brian Nelson's in 2012.
Émile François Zola was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France. The self-proclaimed leader of French naturalism, Zola's works inspired operas such as those of Gustave Charpentier, notably Louise in the 1890s.