Émile Zola eBooks
Émile Zola was born in 1840 and was one of the most famous French writers of the 19th century. His writing is considered the most important examples of French literary realism, and he was extremely influential in his own time.
Zola’s childhood was spent in Provence, where he became friends with the artist Paul Cézanne. This friendship would last for much of their lives, until Zola’s unfavourable representation of the artist in one of his novels. Zola’s mother had wanted her son to pursue a legal career, but he wanted to be a writer.
His writing career began with art and literature reviews for some of the Parisian newspapers. He also wrote strong political pieces against Napoleon III. These pieces, along with his 1865 autobiography, La Confession de Claude, resulted in police attention. He was fired from his job at a publishing company, where he had worked in the sales department.
His autobiography would not be the last time Zola was met with controversy. In 1898, Zola risked his career by publishing a letter, titled “J’accuse”, on the front page of a Paris daily. In it, he defended Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army officer who had been falsely accused of treason. Zola was convicted of libel and was forced to flee to England.
Zola was a highly respected author, and his Les Rougon-Macquart novels, published between 1871 and 1893, were considered his best. This cycle of twenty novels began with Thérèse Raquin and included his best known works, including L’Assomoir and Nana. Their portrayal of French life during the Second Empire made Zola well known and wealthy. He continued to write until his death in 1902.