This edition includes a modern introduction and a list of suggested further reading.
Emile Zola's The Masterpiece (L'oeuvre) is the story of a young artist, Claude Lantier, and his struggle against the indifference and hostility of an ossified art world. His aim is revolutionary, for he believes that his dream of representing "the whole of modern life" will yield "a series of canvases big enough to burst the Louvre." Yet as an artist ahead of his time, he cannot prevail against the hidebound standards of the Academie des Beaux Arts-and, increasingly, against the limits of his own ability to paint the grand works that he envisions. Set in the bohemian milieu of nineteenth-century Paris, The Masterpiece recreates the art world that Zola knew well, both as a journalist and as the boyhood friend of one if its premier artists, Paul Cézanne.