Le huis clos zolien : la conception et la signification de l'espace dans le cycle des Rougon-Macquart d'Emile Zola

Title: Le huis clos zolien : la conception et la signification de l'espace dans le cycle des Rougon-Macquart d'Emile Zola
Author: Kaczmarek, Anna
Source document: Études romanes de Brno. 2011, vol. 32, iss. 1, pp. [27]-38
  • ISSN
    1803-7399 (print)
    2336-4416 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
An attentive reader of Zola's The Rougon-Macquart twenty-novel cycle will certainly notice the very singular spatial organization of the series' literary universe. Being capable of describing in clinical detail the squalid conditions in which some of his characters live, as well as of creating surrealistic or even "supernatural" images of places, the novelist gives to space, in general, a very particular function. He believes that social range is one of the two most important things that influence human destiny (the first one would be man's genetic heritage); and, according to his determinist theory, space (considered as man's closest milieu, his house, city and country, as well as the world surrounding him) is one of the main elements on which people's fate depends. It is interesting to observe how Zola's pessimism of a great realist makes him describe space that is always closed and which is not really likely to open, holding his characters within the limited world. Nevertheless, written with a journalistic eye of the novelist, filling notebooks with facts gathered by personal observation and by correspondence with his network of experts, The Rougon-Macquart "experimental" and "realistic" novels offer to their reader many beautiful pictures of space: journalist, idealist, polemicist that he was, Zola was pre-eminently an artist, one of great ability.
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