My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second volume of the saga of the Rougon-Macquart.
Despite other readers, I am reading this series in the chronological order of publication.
Les Rougon-Macquart is the collective title given to a cycle of twenty novels by French writer Émile Zola. Subtitled Histoire naturelle et social dune famille sous le Second Empire (Natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire), it follows the life of a fictional family living during the Second French Empire (1852–1870) and is an example of French naturalism.
The main topics os this novel, is property speculation and the social description of the Nouveaux riches under the Second French Empire.
The main characters are the following: Aristide Rougon (renamed “Saccard”), the youngest son of the peasant Pierre Rougon and Félicité; Aristide’s young second wife Renée and Maxime, Aristide’s son from his first marriage.
It was quite interesting to learn how Baron Haussmann’s have made the reconstruction of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s.
The sequel of this book is Le Ventre de Paris.
— La transformation de Paris, continua Monsieur Toutin-Laroche, sera la gloire du règne. Le peuple est ingrat : il devrait baiser les pieds de l’empereur.
Le collège de Plassans, un repaire de petits bandits comme la plupart des collèges de province, fut ainsi un milieu de souillure, dans lequel se développa singulièrement ce tempérament neutre, cette enfance qui apportait le mal, d’on ne savait quel inconnu héréditaire.
A movie version The Game Is Over (1966) was made based on this book, directed by Roger Vadim with Jane Fonda, Michel Piccoli, Peter McEnery.
The French version can be found at Gutenberg Project
An interesting link should be mentioned here: The Émile Zola Society.
In order to better understand Zola’s characters, an interesting book should be mentioned here: A Zola Dictionary: the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola by J.G. Patterson.
This book was discussed at the Yahoo Group Literature of the 19th Century.