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date: 18 October 2019

Zola, Emilelocked

  • Richard Langham Smith

Extract

(b Paris, April 2, 1840; d Paris, Sept 29, 1902). French writer. Brought up in Aix-en-Provence, he became a leading man of letters in the latter years of the 19th century, having a profound effect on the arts reaching far beyond the boundaries of his own work. He is celebrated as the leading figure in French naturalisme. His many expositions of his aesthetic emphasize that his accurate observation of real-life events was not an end in itself but rather a scientific basis underlying the creative nature of his art. ‘J’observe pour créer, non pour copier’, he stressed, in the belief that he could penetrate the depths of human nature only by seeing man acting in the society in which he lived. His concept of a series of linked novels – the Rougon-Macquart novels – was his major literary contribution in this respect.

His credo affected not only much other writing, visual art and theatre but also opera, providing a French alternative to Italian ...

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