Tag Archives: Emile Zola

Robert Harris, “An Officer and a Spy”

You know those historical events you should understand but don’t? The ones you try to read about but abandon when your mind kind of slides away from the confusing facts (too many names, too many shifting stories, too long a … Continue reading

Posted in French, historical fiction, thriller | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Ruth Rendell, “Tigerlily’s Orchids”

OK, here’s a question. You pick up a new Ruth Rendell mystery, let’s say Tigerlily’s Orchids. The first character you meet, Olwen, is lucidly determined to drink herself to death. And furthermore, “On the whole Olwen was indifferent to other … Continue reading

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Honore de Balzac, “Pere Goriot”

Wouldn’t it be fun to know how many library books circulate without ever getting read? I haven’t had a library card in 25 years so I’m just getting used to the new freedom of choice that lets me bring books … Continue reading

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Emile Zola, “La Debacle/The Downfall”

Another long silence, but I’ve been helping Emile Zola fight the Franco-Prussian war, and it’s taken a long time. Didn’t turn out too well, either: after all, Zola called his book La Débâcle for a reason. Just to get you … Continue reading

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Emile Zola, “La Curee/The Kill”

Oh. My. Goodness. This novel is so much fun. For a certain reader, that is. If you require subtlety in your fiction, La Curée (translated as The Kill) will not be your cup of tea. Emile Zola was heavy-handed. But golly, … Continue reading

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Eric Hazan, “The Invention of Paris”

The Invention of Paris is nowhere near as much fun as Graham Robb’s Parisians, but in fairness, Eric Hazan probably had something else in mind from the start. Robb is frankly, joyously anecdotal, while Hazan’s aim is perhaps more holistic; … Continue reading

Posted in French, nonfiction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Emile Zola, “Pot Luck”

Sometimes Zola’s outrage nourishes a kind of savage farce, as in the scene in The Kill in which a woman has sex with her stepson on a bearskin rug, in a greenhouse, surrounded by loathsome artificially-grown plants. And sometimes the … Continue reading

Posted in classic, French, literary fiction | Tagged | 2 Comments

Emile Zola, “The Masterpiece”

I think it’s fair to say that Zola is kind of a blowhard. It’s always too much with him: mud or sex or fruits and vegetables. (Respectively: La Terre, La Curée, Le Ventre de Paris.) So in The Masterpiece, his … Continue reading

Posted in art history, classic, French | Tagged , , | 1 Comment