Zola Before the Rougon-Macquart

By John C. Lapp

© 1964

Zola has begun to receive the serious critical study he deserves, but which, chiefly for religious and political resons, has until recent years been denied. Professor Lapp now makes an important contribution to this recent work on Zola. It is his belief that a study of the early works of all great writers is indispensable to an understanding of their main work (in this case Rougon-Macquart). In making his examination Professor Lapp has been interested in determining whether certain patters of plot, character, situation, and image which occur constantly throughout the Rougon-Macquart were present also in the works prior to 1870. His study shows that they were, and it places Zola in the novelistic tradition stretching from the eighteenth century to the present. It also demonstrates that Zola's chief problem, like Balzac's and Flaubert's, was to reconcile the romantic and the realistic world views. This clash of opposites becomes more evident when the earlier works are studied: in his first novel, La Confession de Claude, which like others of his early works has strong elements of autobiography in it, Zola exclaims concerning the ugly prostitute whom he makes his heroine, and whom Claude loves: "I am the dream, she is the reality." Evidently part of Zola's development involves the struggle for objectivity which he never fully obtains, since Claude-Zola appears in almost all of his novels.
From this study, which inevitable involves comparisons between the early and later works, emerges a new view of Zola's art, of his sources, of his style, his character portrayal, and his use of myth, his descriptive technique, his handling of structure, point of view, and other matters of first importance in any study of a novelist.
In describing Zola's development as a novelist Professor Lapp succeeds, too, in showing that at the roots of Zola's naturalism lay an attitude to life which developed very early and which found its finest expression in a peculiarc conjunction of the mytho-poetic tradition and his own "bursting out upon" the world.
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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 186 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005567

  • PUBLISHED DEC 1964

    From: $17.96

    Regular Price: $23.95

    ISBN 9781487576899
  • PUBLISHED DEC 1964

    From: $17.96

    Regular Price: $23.95

Quick Overview

Professor Lapp now makes an important contribution to this recent work on Zola. In making his examination Professor Lapp has been interested in determining whether certain patters of plot, character, situation, and image which occur constantly throughout the Rougon-Macquart were present also in the works prior to 1870.

Zola Before the Rougon-Macquart

By John C. Lapp

© 1964

Zola has begun to receive the serious critical study he deserves, but which, chiefly for religious and political resons, has until recent years been denied. Professor Lapp now makes an important contribution to this recent work on Zola. It is his belief that a study of the early works of all great writers is indispensable to an understanding of their main work (in this case Rougon-Macquart). In making his examination Professor Lapp has been interested in determining whether certain patters of plot, character, situation, and image which occur constantly throughout the Rougon-Macquart were present also in the works prior to 1870. His study shows that they were, and it places Zola in the novelistic tradition stretching from the eighteenth century to the present. It also demonstrates that Zola's chief problem, like Balzac's and Flaubert's, was to reconcile the romantic and the realistic world views. This clash of opposites becomes more evident when the earlier works are studied: in his first novel, La Confession de Claude, which like others of his early works has strong elements of autobiography in it, Zola exclaims concerning the ugly prostitute whom he makes his heroine, and whom Claude loves: "I am the dream, she is the reality." Evidently part of Zola's development involves the struggle for objectivity which he never fully obtains, since Claude-Zola appears in almost all of his novels.
From this study, which inevitable involves comparisons between the early and later works, emerges a new view of Zola's art, of his sources, of his style, his character portrayal, and his use of myth, his descriptive technique, his handling of structure, point of view, and other matters of first importance in any study of a novelist.
In describing Zola's development as a novelist Professor Lapp succeeds, too, in showing that at the roots of Zola's naturalism lay an attitude to life which developed very early and which found its finest expression in a peculiarc conjunction of the mytho-poetic tradition and his own "bursting out upon" the world.
Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 186 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Voici un livre qui a les plus grands mérites. Le titre modeste cache en fait un véritable essai d’esthétique racinienne…. Ce n’est point Racine poète qui doit nous retenir, mais Racine auteur tragique. Le point départ est excellent. Le développement ne l’est pas moins. Tout l’étude sera consacrée à la nature tragique des aspects qu’offre le théâtre racinien. M. Lapp s’appuie sur une lecture attentive et fervente de l’écrivain. Il utilise les travaux de ses prédécesseurs, avec discrétion et avec esprit critique : toujours il confronte leurs observations avec son expérience personnelle. Sa synthèse, bien qu’elle comporte des trouvailles étrangères, les assimile parfaitement et forme un ensemble homogène et nouveau.


    Les Lettres Romanes

    Professor Lapp’s study is one of the best that has been devoted to Racine anywhere at any time…. The book is so full of original—and sometimes audacious—apercus, that it is difficult in a brief review to give an adequate idea of its contents. The part from which the most solid profits can be drawn is, in my judgement, the central core devoted to an examination of the way in which Racine adapted the famous "conventions" of neo-classic theory to his own purposes and thereby established a new kind of tragedy. This is brilliantly done and puts every study of Racine in debt to Mr. Lap….All lovers of Racine should be grateful to Professor Lapp for revealing to them with his percipient eye, his scholarly knowledge and his sensitive taste beauties which repeated readings of Racine had not vouchsafed to them.


    A.F.B. Clark
    Canadian Forum
  • Author Information

    JOHN C. LAPP holds degrees from Queen's University and from Cornell Unviersity. He has taught French in a number of American colleges and unviersities, including Oberlin College and the University of California at Los Angeles. Since 1963 he has been Executive Head of the Department of French and Italian at Standford University. His most recent book was Aspects of Racinian Tragedy.

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