Émile Zola

Émile Zola

A carte-de-visite portrait of the French author Émile Zola (1840-1902).

Born in Paris, the son of an Italian engineer, Zola entered the publishing house of Hachette as a clerk but soon became a journalist there. His work in criticism, however, was almost uniformly unfortunate and his true forte first showed itself in his charming short stories.

In the later years of the Empire he formed with Gustave Flaubert, Alphonse Daudet, the Goncourt brothers and Ivan Turgenev a sort of informal society, out of which grew the ‘Naturalist School’, a powerful example of which is his Thérèse Raquin (1867). It was not until after the Franco-Prussian War, however, that he began his great cycle of twenty Rougmon-Macquart novels, expounding his theories on heredity through the history of two families.

However, none of his prodigious literary output achieved such fame as his newspaper article J’accuse (1898) which drew public attention to the Dreyfus case and rallied liberal and radical support in defence of the Third Republic against military and clerical extremism. Sentenced to imprisonment, he escaped to England for a year, but was welcomed back as a hero. He died in Paris in 1902, suffocated by charcoal fumes.

Photographed by J.M. Lopez of Paris.


Code: 124338
© Paul Frecker 2023