Emile Zola

Article

January 24, 2022

Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (Paris, April 2, 1840 - Paris, September 29, 1902) was a French writer, journalist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher and photographer. Considered one of the greatest exponents of naturalism, he was one of the most appreciated, most published, translated and commented French novelists in the world, making his mark on the French literary world for a long time. His novels have had several adaptations for film and television. His life and his work have been the subject of numerous historical studies. On a literary level, he is best known for the Rougon-Macquarts, a twenty-volume romantic fresco depicting French society under the Second Empire which depicts the path of a family through its different generations and of which each of the representatives, of a particular era and particular generation, is the subject of a novel. Zola described the society of the Second Empire in its diversity, highlighting its harshness towards workers (Germinale, 1885), its turpitudes (Nanà, 1880), but also his successes (To the paradise of the ladies, 1883). In a search for truth that takes scientific methods as a model, Émile Zola accumulates direct observations and documentation on every topic. With his keen sense of detail and effective metaphor, with the rhythm of his sentences and his narrative constructions, he was able to create a powerful imaginary world, inhabited by distressed questions about the human and social body. The last years of his life were marked by his involvement in the Dreyfus affair with the publication, in January 1898, in the newspaper L'Aurore, of the article "J'Accuse ...!", Which cost him a lawsuit for defamation and exile. in London the same year.

Biography

Family origins

Émile's father, François Zola (born Francesco Zolla; 1795–1847), is a naturalized French Italian soldier and engineer. Born in Venice, he comes from a family originally from the Brescia area who served for several generations in the army of the Serenissima. After a short military career he devoted himself to important engineering works. As part of a project for the expansion of the Marseille port, which was not completed, he often went to Paris, where he met Françoise-Émilie-Aurélie Aubert (1819-1880), a woman originally from Dourdan, in the Beauce (the region of Chartres, south of the capital), who came to Paris with her parents - her father was a glazier and painter, her mother a seamstress - in the early 1930s. Despite her twenty-four years difference and her low dowry, they were married at the town hall of the 1st arrondissement on March 16, 1839. The religious wedding was celebrated the following year, February 29, 1840, in Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.

The first years: transfer to Aix-en-Provence

An only child, Émile Zola was born in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, at 10 bis of Rue Saint-Joseph, on 2 April 1840. In 1843, the Zola family moved to Aix-en-Provence, where his father was called to direct the construction of a dam and a canal to supply the city with drinking water. He rents a house located at 6 rue Silvacanne, on the outskirts of the city. The following year the paternal grandparents of the future writer also settle in Provence. In the early Provençal years François Zola travels a lot for work, staying in Marseille and Paris; it was on the occasion of one of these trips that his wife and son followed him to the capital in the second half of 1845. Zola's first real contact with the Parisian reality resulted in a bitter disappointment. Many years later he will recall his arrival in the big city: in the short story La Banlieue, contained in Le Capitaine Burle (1883), the narrator claims to have expected a "succession of palaces" while there was nothing else, before entering the city. , that «bad buildings, houses susp

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