Book review: La Curée (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2) by Émile Zola

La Curée (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2)La Curée by Émile Zola

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.

From Wiki:
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.


8 thoughts on “Book review: La Curée (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2) by Émile Zola

  1. Just wondering, (LOL not that I’m an expert on Zola, far from it) that scene from the movie looks like a scene from Germinal…when Catherine and Chavel, slaving underground in a torrid heat are trapped there by violence above?

    • Lisa, I haven’t watched this movie but according to IMBd, it was made based on “La Curee”. The movie based on Germinal has Jean Sorel and Berthe Granval as the main characters,

      • Maybe it’s just the background that’s deceptive… after all, LOL, Renee and Maxime … um … frolick almost everywhere, don’t they?!

      • Certainly!!! We will start pretty soon the #3 of this saga, would you join us? It isn’t a buddy read, justing reading and sharing a few comments among us (Bettie, Wanda, Dagny and me).

      • Inatal, I will be reading Money next, and am happy to chat about it on and off, but I haven’t decided on a start date: it’s my next Zola, but not my next book, I like to read a few other things in between. Are you on GoodReads? I know Dagny is because we’re friends there, so I will be able to see when you get started on it.

      • There is no hurry Lisa, on the contrary. Yes, I am at GR, I’ll make a friend request since I’ve been following your reviews. Happy readings!!

  2. Oh god, la Curee…It brings so many memories of school when we had to study it for french. I remember at the time that the only moments that I “enjoyed” where the love relationship. But to study it at school is different than reading it for the pleasure and I think one day, I will overcome my memories and pick it up again 😉

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