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  • New Approaches to Zola. Selected Papers from the 2002 Cambridge Centenary Colloquium
  • Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze
Thompson, Hannah, New Approaches to Zola. Selected Papers from the 2002 Cambridge Centenary Colloquium. London: The Émile Zola Society, 2003. Pp. 159. ISBN0-9525583-3-5

2002 was the year of many important conferences commemorating the 100TH anniversary of Zola's death. This collection of essays brings together a selection of papers presented at a conference in Cambridge. In the preface to the collection, Nicholas White provides valuable insights into perceptions of Zola and his work in England during the 20th century, using illustrations from the Times Literary Supplement which was, coincidentally, founded in the year of Zola's death.

The volume is divided into four main sections entitled respectively, 'Zola and Shopping', 'Zola and Theory', 'Zola and the Arts' and 'Zola in Love and Death'. In the first section, Lynn Penrod and Andreas Bonnermeier both explore the various strategies of seduction at work within the 'shopaholic space' (Penrod) of Au bonheur des dames, while relating them to the realities of modern-day shopping. Evlyn Gould, for her part, sets up a challenging parallel between Au bonheur des dames and Vérité in order to demonstrate that both novels are ultimately about educating citizens – and readers.

The two essays of section two ('Zola and Theory') provide examples of how Naturalist aesthetics are undermined in les Rougon-Macquart: Jeremy Worth shows that images of verticality and channeling ('arborescence') stand for a symbolic resistance to the capture of the subject in the Second Empire, while Kate Griffiths uses Irigaray's concept of 'mimeticism' to investigate and challenge the mimetic quality of Zola's textual mirrors.

In section three, entitled 'Zola and the Arts', Roger Pearson both reexamines Mallarmé's view of Zola's work and offers new insights into the relationship between Naturalism and Symbolism. Through the key example of Renée/Venus, Blandine Chambost reassesses the links between Zola and painting, as does Jean-Pierre Leduc-Adine who, through a close reading of Zola's Écrits sur l'art, reasserts the writer's modernity. By concentrating on the cinema as an interpretative lens, Russell Cousins for his part shows that film adaptations can give rise to highly innovative and productive rereadings of Zola's work.

Finally, section four ('Zola in Love and Death') includes two articles by Chantal Morel and Véronique Cnockaert who attempt to re-evaluate concepts of, respectively, love (in Une page d'amour) and death in Zola's writing. The last essay in the volume, by Denise Merkle, provides an update on Zola and translation studies.

The volume may sometimes lack cohesion – the transition from 'Zola and shopping' to 'Zola and theory' is somewhat abrupt – and the links between the articles and the sections they are in occasionally seem contrived. But, as its title indicates, the main purpose of this collection of essays (along with numerous edited volumes published over the last few years, such as Zola: Modern Perspectives in The Australian Journal of French Studies, special issue, 2001, to name but one) is to provide samples of 'new approaches' [End Page 205] which attempt to reassess Zola's work by resorting to wider, more interdisciplinary frames of study. As such it is a useful contribution to the field of Zola studies.

Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze
University of Durham


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