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Friday, April 12, 2013

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola

Elizabeth Olsen slated to star as Therese Raquin in the 2013 adaptation of the Emile Zola novel


Book Review
Therese Raquin
by Emile Zola
p. 1867

  Am I only the one who gets Balzac and Zola confused all the time?  Balzac: first, Zola: second.  Therese Raquin is typically regarded as Zola's first hit and the book that made his reputation.   The titular character is the adopted niece of a wealthy-ish old woman who has a son, Camille.  Therese and Camille get married because his mom insists on it.  They move to Paris and Camille's buddy Laurent begins an affair with Therese.   Then they murder Camille together and spend the rest of the book feeling bad about their decision.

  I was honestly pretty bummed about writing this review until I figured out there is a new film adaptation coming out this year starring Elizabeth Olsen. Once I figured that out- after I finished the book I was like, "Damn- relevancy."  Nothing draws an Audience to a book review of a 150 year old book like a filmed adaptation made in the United States starring an up and coming or a list actress.

   Clocking in at a brisk 200 pages in the Oxford World's Classics edition I read, Therese Raquin by Emile Zola makes for a brisk read- a welcome contrast to many of the other weighty hits from the late 1860s.  Zola was at the very beginning of the intrusion of "ism" style thinking making its way into the novel in a self-conscious, programatic way.  Even though English and French authors had been experimenting with including "social concerns" into the marriage/inheritance plot infatuated world of the early Victorian Novel, Zola was different because he espoused literary naturalism as a "cause."

  This kind of like the edge of a cliff for the Novel as an art form.  I'm more inclined to see early literary Modernism as the wrong path vs. a step up from the Novel during the mid to late Victorian period.  Thus, Zola as a "realist" and precursor to Modernism is already headed down this wrong turn for the Novel.  In case you are wondering, I am not looking forward to reading Henry James.  Not one bit.  Can't wait for the movie!!!

  

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