Lourdes by Émile Zola was immediately controversial upon its publication in 1894, for its depiction of religious fervor as "hysteria," and its cynical focus upon one of the most holy of Catholic shrines.
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About the Author
ÉMILE ZOLA was born in Paris on April 2, 1840, the son of an Italian-Greek engineer father and a French mother. When Zola was two, his family moved to Aix-en-Provence. His father died soon thereafter, leaving his mother struggling to support herself and the boy. In 1860, after two years of study at the Lycée St-Louis, Zola returned to Paris, where he became a clerk and journalist, and began his writing career. He published a collection of short stories, Conts 'a Ninon (Stories for Ninon), in 1864, followed by La Confession de Claude (1865), Thérèse Raquin (1867), and Madeleine Férat (1868).
In 1871 Zola commenced the long series called Les Rougon-Macquart, a sequence of twenty books described in the subtitle as "the natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire." The series included such acclaimed works as Nana (1880), Germinal (1885), LaTerre (1887, Earth), La Bête humaine (1890, The Beast in Man), and Docteur Pascal (1893).
Zola's novel Lourdes was published in 1894 as part of the trilogy Les Trois Villes, which included Rome (1896) and Paris (1898).
With Gustave Flaubert and others, Zola helped found the Naturalist school of French literature. Its concentration on misery and misfortune swung public taste away from nineteenth-century Romanticism to a middle road of balanced taste.
In 1898, Zola espoused the cause of Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer convicted of treason in 1894. Convinced of Dreyfus's innocence, Zola published his open letter "J'accuse" in the newspaper L'Aurore (January 13, 1898), denouncing the French general staff. This led to Zola's own trial on charges of offending the French government, which reopened the Dreyfus case to public review. Sentenced to imprisonment, Zola escaped to England. Both Dreyfus and Zola were eventually vindicated, and Zola returned to France in 1899.
Zola died on September 28, 1902.
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HARD TO REVIEW, I COULDN'T EVEN OPEN IT.