- Reviewed by
The aim of Zola et le texte naturaliste en Europe et aux Amériques is an ambitious one. This volume of sixteen essays from academics around the world seeks to explore aspects of both the origins and the afterlife of Zola's fiction. The first of the collection's two sections explores the porous interface between Zola's work, specific traditional genres, other texts, social discourses and collective memories. Part two of the volume subsequently turns to consider the reception, transformation and recontextualisation of Zola's work in different forms and geographical contexts after its publication. The result is a volume spanning genre, nation and era, a collection underlining the porous boundaries of the naturalist text as it transforms and absorbs [End Page 369] other sources before itself subsequently being transformed and absorbed into new texts and contexts.
In chapter one, Kristof Haavik explores the complex legacy of the epic tradition in Zola's La Débâcle. Haavik teases out the ways in which Zola borrows from a tradition which he simultaneously undermines, redefines and renews. Mihaela Marin turns, in chapter two, to consider the connections between tragedy and nineteenth-century French naturalism. Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt and Linda Toenniessen, co-authors of chapter three, analyze the presence of the Anglo-Saxon literary gothic in Zola's Le Rêve. However, they also demonstrate that this mystical novel is not an exception to the author's naturalist project, but rather an exploration of issues pertinent to it: the position of women in society, hysteria and anorexia. Whilst chapters one to three explore the adaptation of earlier genres and movements into Zola's work, Kelly Basilio, in chapter four, considers the evolution of a character type across the author's fiction: the pure, blonde heroine, destined for misery. In chapter five, Marie-Sophie Armstrong focuses on marginal figures in La Fortune des Rougon, arguing that their thieving activities in some senses parallel the textual borrowing at the heart of Zola's creative act. Moving beyond the Rougon-Macquart, Robert S. April considers a specific instance of such borrowing, questioning whether Zola's description of Madame Raquin in Thérèse Raquin is indebted to science or literature. Elizabeth Emery, in chapter seven, analyzes the plurality of borrowed sources woven into the fabric of Zola's Rome, a plurality, she argues, which ultimately makes the work indigestible. Reading Zola through Baudelaire, Anna Gural-Migdal links the æsthetic of luxury and Nana's relentless performance of identity to argue for the novel's post-modern status.
Whilst chapter nine of the collection explores the interaction of Zola's work with that of the lesser-known Léon Frapié as Jurate Kaminskas assesses the figure of the self-sufficient woman, section two of this collection subsequently considers the impact and development of naturalism beyond France. In chapter ten, Holly Haahr evaluates the intertextual relationship between Maupassant's short stories and Isaac Babel's 'Guy de Maupassant', a tale about the translation of such works in St Petersburg. Chapters eleven and twelve contemplate the influence of naturalism in Germany in theatre and the visual arts. Ruth Schürch-Halas unpicks the relationship between Gerhart Hauptmann's play Die Weber and Zola's Germinal via an analysis of silence and screams. Arturo Larcati analyzes the varying impact of Zola's novels on the lithographs of Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Riikka Rossi offers an assessment of two Finnish female naturalist novelists which segues into Juan Pablo Spicer-Escalante's discussion of the space and voice of female characters in Argentine naturalism. Robert Singer and Diane Smith extend the collection's discussions to the sphere of early American cinema depicting mining strikes, whilst Ligia Vassallo closes the collection reflecting on the reception and continued relevance of naturalism in Latin America.
The strengths of the collection are clear. It is an ambitious piece making compelling links between a wide range of eras, forms and...