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The Fortune of the Rougons (Rougon-Macquart)
ISBN 1595690107 / 9781595690104 / 1-59569-010-7
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The idyll of Miette and Silvère is a very touching one, and quite in accord with the conditions of life prevailing in Provence at the period Emile Zola selects for his narrative. Miette is a frank child of nature; Silvère, her lover, in certain respects foreshadows, a quarter of a century in advance, the Abbé Pierre Fromont of "Lourdes," "Rome," and "Paris." "The Fortune of the Rougons" is the initial volume of the Rougon-Macquart series. Though it was by no means M. Zola's first essay in fiction, it was undoubtedly his first great bid for genuine literary fame, and the foundation of what must necessarily be regarded as his life-work. The idea of writing the "natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire," extending to a score of volumes, was doubtless suggested to M. Zola by Balzac's immortal "Comédie Humaine." He was twenty-eight years of age when this idea first occurred to him; he was fifty-three when he at last sent the manuscript of his concluding volume, "Dr. Pascal," to the press. He had spent five-and-twenty years in working out his scheme, persevering with it doggedly and stubbornly, whatever rebuffs he might encounter, whatever jeers and whatever insults might be directed against him by the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the hypocritical. Truth was on the march and nothing could stay it; even as, at the present hour, its march, if slow, none the less continues athwart another and a different crisis of the illustrious novelist's career. [via]