La Curée: Speculation and Dissipation

  • Brian Nelson

Keywords

Flare Lost Trop Metaphor Shoe 

Résumé

…Pendant trois années, j’avais rassemblé des documents, et ce qui dominait, ce que je trouvais sans cesse devant moi, c’étaient les faits orduriers, les aventures incroyables de honte et de folie, l’argent volé et les femmes vendues. Cette note de l’or et de la chair, cette note du ruissellement des millions et du bruit grandissant des orgies, sonnait si haut et si continuellement, que je me décidai à la donner. J’écrivis La Curée. Devais-je me taire, pouvais-je laisser dans l’ombre cet éclat de débauche qui éclaire le second Empire d’un jour suspect de mauvais lieu? L’histoire que je veux écrire en serait restée obscure.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Bourgeois corruption and venality, rapid social transformation, arrivisme, conquest of the city, monomania, and a preoccupation with energy and vital forces are eminently Balzacian themes. There is an obvious similarity between Saccard’s excited contemplation of the city from the Buttes Montmartre and Rastignac’s gesture at the end of Le Père Goriot. Prompted by the appearance of a new edition of the Oeuvres complètes by Michel Lévy, Zola had written enthusiastic articles on Balzac in Le Gaulois on 8 Feb., 17 March, 2 June and 13 July 1870. A reverential piece in Le Rappel on 13 May 1870, in which Zola presented his predecessor as a merciless social critic, clearly revealed Zola’s conscious desire to treat his themes with the Comédie humaine as a model: see Oeuvres complètes, X, 927–8; see also Henri Mitterand, Zola journaliste. De l’affaire Manet à l’affaire Dreyfus (Paris: Armand Colin, 1962), pp. 110–13.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    Zola wrote two articles on haussmannisation, one for La Tribune (18 Oct. 1868), the other for La Cloche (8 June 1872). The former is reprinted in Martin Kanes (ed.), L’Atelier de Zola. Textes de journaux 1865–1870 (Geneva: Droz, 1963), pp. 173–6. See also Mitterand, Zola journaliste, pp. 92–7, 115–17;Google Scholar
  3. Michel Claverie, ‘La fête impériale’, Les Cahiers naturalistes, 45 (1973), 31–49.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    For suggestive discussions of the relationship between these two themes, see Roland Bourneuf, ‘Retour et variation des formes dans La Curée’, RHLF, LXIX (1969), 993–1008;Google Scholar
  5. Sandy Petrey, ‘Stylistics and Society in La Curée’, Modern Language Notes, LXXXIX (1974), 626–40.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Notes de travail, B.N. MS. Nouv. acq. fr. 10282, fol. 298. For a detailed study of the theme of Phèdre in La Curée, see Auguste Dezalay, ‘La “nouvelle Phèdre” de Zola ou les mésaventures d’un personnage tragique’, Travaux de linguistique et de littérature, IX (1971), 121–34.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    For a discussion of La Curée in the context of Decadence, see Sara Via, ‘Une Phèdre décadente chez les naturalistes’, Revue des sciences humaines, 153 (1974), 29–38.Google Scholar
  8. See also A.E. Carter, The Idea of Decadence in French Literature, 1830–1900 (University of Toronto Press, 1958), pp. 71–9;Google Scholar
  9. George Ross Ridge, The Hero in French Decadent Literature (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1961), pp. 74–80;Google Scholar
  10. and John C. Lapp, ‘The Watcher Betrayed and the Fatal Woman: Some Recurring Patterns in Zola’, PMLA, LXXIV (1959), 276–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 36.
    See especially Gaston Bachelard, La Psychanalyse du feu (Paris: Gallimard, 1938) and L’Eau et les rêves (Paris: Corti, 1942).Google Scholar
  12. 40.
    See Philippe Bonnefis, ‘Fluctuations de l’image, en régime naturaliste’, Revue des sciences humaines, 154 (1974), 283–300;Google Scholar
  13. Philippe Hamon, ‘A propos de l’impressionnisme chez Zola’, Les Cahiers naturalistes, 34 (1967), 139–48;Google Scholar
  14. J. H. Matthews, ‘L’impressionnisme chez Zola: Le Ventre de Paris’, Le Français moderne, XXIX (1961), 199–205;Google Scholar
  15. Joy Newton, ‘Emile Zola impressionniste’, Les Cahiers naturalistes, 33 (1967), 39–52; 34 (1967), 124–38, and ‘Emile Zola and the French Impressionist Novel’, L’Espirit créateur, XIII (1973), 320–8. Zola’s impressionism has also been touched on by Martin Turnell in his analysis of Zola’s style in The Art of French Fiction (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1959), pp. 180–92.Google Scholar

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© Brian Nelson 1983

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  • Brian Nelson

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