The Kill by Émile Zola
(La Curée)

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Synopsis

One of the most important, though controversial, French novelists of the late nineteenth century, and founder of the Realist movement, was Émile Zola (1840-1902). He was the most important example of the literary genre of naturalism, and an integral part of developing theatrical naturalism. "The Kill" is the second book in Zola's "Les Rougon-Macquart", a twenty-volume series about a fictional family during the Second French Empire. The Kill, a second translation of "La Curée", undertaken by poet and literary critic Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, is believed to be the far superior edition when compared to the first attempt, "The Rush for the Spoil", by John Stirling. La Curée literally means the portion of game fed to hunting dogs, a title relevant to the story itself, one of societal inequality and ruthless classism. This novel met with much acclaim for its realism, despite the fact that Zola himself had never personally experienced the opulent lives of the upper-class of which he so eloquently wrote.
 

About Émile Zola

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Zola was the spokesperson for the naturalist novel in France and the leader of a school that championed the infusion of literature with new scientific theories of human development drawn from Charles Darwin (see Vol. 5) and various social philosophers. The theoretical claims for such an approach, which are considered simplistic today, were outlined by Zola in his Le Roman Experimental (The Experimental Novel, 1880). He was the author of the series of 20 novels called The Rougon-Macquart, in which he attempted to trace scientifically the effects of heredity through five generations of the Rougon and Macquart families. Three of the outstanding volumes are L'Assommoir (1877), a study of alcoholism and the working class; Nana (1880), a story of a prostitute who is a femme fatale; and Germinal (1885), a study of a strike at a coal mine. All gave scope to Zola's gift for portraying crowds in turmoil. Today Zola's novels have been appreciated by critics for their epic scope and their visionary and mythical qualities. He continues to be immensely popular with French readers. His newspaper article "J'Accuse," written in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, launched Zola into the public limelight and made him the political conscience of his country.
 
Published April 4, 2011 by Digireads.com. 178 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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