Etienne Lantier, as many have noted, is the most fully developed of all of Zola’s revolutionaries in that, along with possessing all the other characteristics discussed earlier, he is the most politically active and successful. At the same time, Etienne feels that curious, contradictory repugnance in the presence of the peuple —a discrepancy which partially explains his flights into the imaginary and his inability to formulate practical revolutionary programs. She should have run off to Belgium with Goujet when she had the chance! While they last, the lessons also mean a chance for Muche to cook and eat new delicacies he has stolen from the market. Etienne’s ability to win the miners to his ideas, to inspire them with his voice to strike, and to infect them—intoxicate them, more appropriately—with his romantic, visionary revolutionism is made overtly analogous to the sweet, transforming musicianship of Orpheus. In both its visionary, transcendental aspects as well as its sociological claims Zola carries out this attack on the romantic notion of the common people, the populist romance. As a symbol of the peuple , he too seems eternally on the bottom, struggling heroically upward toward the light, to throw off his chains.
This pattern of prosperity-corruption-destruction and purificiation-regeneration suggests the pattern of the Eternal Return, which is hardly a progressive vision of history. In L’Assommoir , however, hardship is only destructive. Sandy Petrey sees Goujet as Zola’s own defense mechanism against socialist criticisms; Goujet illustrates that even the perfect worker in all his hard work and temperance will be poor and destitute. Its description begins as Madame Lorilleux asks her brother Coupeau, who has come with Gervaise to ask her permission to marry, whether they had heard the downstairs couple fighting again:. Described early in the novel, he is the type that becomes a Translation to come Her marriage to the roofer Coupeau had prospered for a time, even to the extent that she had been able to get her own laundry business, until Coupeau injured himself in a fall from a roof, was cripped for months, and subsequently degenerated into alcoholism.
The Populist Romance: L’Assommoir and Germinal: Orpheus among the Peuple
The cover is a fragment of the above painting–you see the man, woman, the glass of absinthe–otherwise known as the ‘green fairy’–the part missing is the bottle and the second table.
Emile Zola may well owe some of his reputation as one of the first to introduce the working classes into central roles in his fiction to the fact that he shifts zoa the sentimental, romantic portrayal to one that is essentially ironic and quite pessimistic.
Etienne’s ability to win the miners to his ideas, to inspire them with his voice to strike, and to infect them—intoxicate them, more appropriately—with his romantic, visionary revolutionism is made overtly analogous to the sweet, transforming musicianship of Orpheus. Thus, survival has its own costs too.
Despite the filth, the odor, and the clutter that quickly creep into the laundry as well as their home, Translation to come At any rate, whatever the progressive force—if Zola believes in such—it is clearly not identified with the people or political struggle or popular revolution.
Whatever his attitude toward the peuple —which seems to have been a cautious, critical sympathy—Zola implicitly attacks the traditions of the populist romance throughout the Les Rougon-Macquart series. Related to this is the tradition that Orpheus was torn apart by the Thracian women because after the death of Eurydice he refused to have anything to do with women.
It is interesting that we want to whisper in these characters ears and say something encouraging like, “come on, you can do it.
These are characters who ignore the Translation to come People live on top of each other, everyone knows everyone’s business or thinks they dothe sights and sounds and perhaps above all the smells are pervasive, and there are bars all over.
Of course, Cosette was not the real child, of Valjean though she was certainly cared for in that manner by the fugitive, but Valjean is indeed haunted throughout the novel by his dissertatio guilt as murderer and thief. In other words, the people resemble those Thracian barbarians Orpheus seeks to convert. This opinion toward the middle of the novel when Etienne’s campaign for the relief fund is under way, dissertafion widespread; he grows in the esteem of all the coal miners as a Translation to come While the Romantics extended horizons and brought the transcendental seemingly into closer proximity to our world, Zola draws those horizons back in, crushing mankind in a restricted world; he withdraws the prospect of the transcendental, symbolized particularly by the absence or the illusoriness of stars in his fictional world.
Of course the nature of the peuple in Zola’s world is only one manifestation of a more general notion of human disssertation. Angus Davidson, 2nd Ed. Of course there are obvious differences: Specifically in Germinal, Zola’s largely negative conception of the fictive matriarch begins to change.
That the cataclysm brought with it physical destruction made little difference since what was destroyed, was an expression of the same corrupt world. Family life, in practically all its aspects, in L’Assommoirhowever, is marked by disintegration and squalor.
This familiar romantic revolutionary view is fiercely satirized, in Les Rougon-Macquart.
This is hardly the continuing heroism that Michelet found in the peuplethough understandable nonetheless. As a symbol of the peuplehe too seems eternally on the bottom, struggling heroically upward toward the light, to throw off his chains. Although it may seem contradictory to label Zola’s revolutionaries, whom many critics have observed to be conspicuously similar, romantic populists at all, their careers and their characteristics are quite unlike those of Michelet’s own life or of Hugo’s revolutionaries.
Such emphasis and reiteration is placed upon the jumbled, fragmentary, poorly understood radical reading of these and other plebian characters that it seems clear that Zola is satirizing in a rather melancholy way one of the most important items on the romantic populists’ political agenda—popular education and popular literacy.
L’Assommoir by Zola
Scenes like the one which occurs in the Translation to come One of the most important narrative patterns that continually appears in the episodes of Les Rougon-Macquart involves the romantic revolutionary’s ignorance or shock of recognition of the true nature of the peuple.
The first description of him suggests an almost Platonic image of a soul trapped in a peculiarly plebian sort of clay:.
More lxssommoir in Greek and Roman mythology than he cared to admit, Zola often carefully planned evocations of myth in novels which, for Walker, must be regarded, as important keys to the symbolism, the hidden metaphors, and “deeper meanings” of Zola’s works. Novalis to Nerval Lincoln, Neb.: Great comment, and very true.
decheance matriarcale chez Zola: “L’assommoir” et “Germinal” |
Move your mouse pointer over French or Spanish text to see translations. In such moments it is the chosen receiver of divine or transcendental knowledge as a whole. Bather, it appears in his nausea for the markets and his loathing of the behavior, particularly the culinary habits, of the people there. As far as the latter is concerned, Translation to come