Zoladdiction: a Zola Reading Event in April


It’s less than two weeks until the start of Zoladdiction, a month long reading event hosted by Fanda at Fanda Classiclit and O at Delaisse. Stay on top of all the action with the Twitter hashtag:  #zoladdiction

If you haven’t decided what to read yet, here are few lists to help you get started:

The best selling Zola novels in France

1 Germinal
2 La Débâcle
3 L’Assommoir
4 Le Rêve
5 Nana
6 Une page d’Amour
7 La Bête humaine
8 Le Docteur Pascal
9 Pot-Bouille
10 L’Argent

1 Germinal
2 L’Assommoir
3 La Bête humaine
4 Au Bonheur des Dames
5 La Faute de l’abbé Mouret
6 Nana
7 Le Rêve
8 La Curée
9 La Terre
10 Le Ventre de Paris

The Zola novels most selected by Zoladdiction participants so far:

1 Germinal
2 Masterpiece
3 Therese Raquin
4 La Bete Humaine
5 Nana

If popularity isn’t your thing you could try reading the Rougon-Macquart series in order. What order you ask? Good question! There are several arrangements. The most common arrangement is the order in which they were written and published. There’s no debate about that order and it can be found easily on the internet. 

Ernest Alfred Vizetelly, in his book Emile Zola, novelist and reformer: an account of his life & work, claims that Zola provided a recommended reading order for the series. I have been unable to independently verfiy that Zola ever said such a thing, so we have to take Mr. Vizetelly at his word. I must admit I find the order a bit peculiar.

I have come up with an alternate order by going through the books looking for datable references. With much overlap in the chronology I have formed them into groups that cover roughly the same time span. I have also  included the dates for each book to help readers get some sense of their overlapping chronologies.

The series begins with La Fortune des Rougon which takes place during the coup d’etat of 2 December 1851‎. Zola tells the history of the two branches of the family that brings them up to the present, the coup d’etat that turns President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte into emperor Napoleon III and begins the Second French Empire. The series continues to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and Paris Commune which brings down the Second Empire and is described in the pentultimate novel, La Débâcle. The final novel, Le Docteur Pascal, provides a postscript and some final reflections on the Second Empire.

I hope this has been helpful or at least amusing. I look forward to joining the group in April for Zoladdiction!

Zola’s recommended reading order for the Rougon-Macquart series (according to Ernest Alfred Vizetelly’s Emile Zola, Novelist and Reformer):

1. La Fortune des Rougon (1871)
2. Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (1876)
3. La Curée (1871-2)
4. L’Argent (1891)
5. Le Rêve (1888)
6. La Conquête de Plassans (1874)
7. Pot-Bouille (1882)
8. Au Bonheur des Dames (1883)
9. La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret (1875)
10. Une Page d’amour (1878)
11. Le Ventre de Paris (1873)
12. La Joie de vivre (1884)
13. L’Assommoir (1877)
14.L’Œuvre (1886)
15. La Bête humaine (1890)
16. Germinal (1885)
17. Nana (1880)
18. La Terre (1887)
19. La Débâcle (1892)
20. Le Docteur Pascal (1893)

My recommended reading order for the Rougon-Macquart series:

Dec 1851 La Fortune des Rougon (1871)

1852-64 La Curée (1871-2)
1854-57 Une Page d’amour (1878)
1858-59 Le Ventre de Paris (1873)
1858-63 La Conquête de Plassans (1874)
1866 La Faute de l’Abbé Mouret (1875)

1857-1862 Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (1876)

1861-63 Pot-Bouille (1882)

1863-73 La Joie de vivre (1884)
1868 Germinal (1885)

1851-69 L’Assommoir (1877)
1860-69 Le Rêve (1888)
1864-69 Au Bonheur des Dames (1883)
1864-69 L’Argent (1891)

1855-70 L’Œuvre (1886)
18??-70 La Terre (1887)
18??-70 La Bête humaine (1890)
1867-70 Nana (1880)

1870-71 La Débâcle (1892)
1872-74 Le Docteur Pascal (1893)

Note by Zola (1872) mentioning 17 story ideas

1872 note by Zola mentioning 17 story ideas. (Credit: Wikipedia)

~ by severalfourmany on March 21, 2013.

11 Responses to “Zoladdiction: a Zola Reading Event in April”

  1. I do hope you blog about your readings…if only I was not trying to juggle 4 MOOCs right now…must one sleep to live? Cheers, ~ a

    • It’s been a while since I’ve read Zola. Not sure how much I will get to read but I think he’s overdue.
      4 MOOC’s? Which ones are you taking? That should keep you busy. I think I’m signed up for four as well but only the two Wesleyan classes have captured my interest. The nice thing about free classes is you can try them out and see which ones fit your mood.

      • MOOCs are a blessing and curse for that free factor..esp for one who is more interested in learning than earning! Courses – Roth’s Modern/PoMo – Know Thy Self – Ancient Greeks & just started late, Justice, over at edX (this prof is most impressive!). We’ll see if all get completed,right?!

  2. Wow…and I think YOU should be the host of Zoladdiction… 🙂
    Thanks anyway for this post. What would you like to take for April, then?

    • I am tempted to start at the beginning with La Fortune des Rougon. But the real bonus of Zoladdiction is the chance to talk about the books–so I will probably read the more popular ones along with the group, starting with Germinal. I have read many of them before but it was so long ago that I could use a refresher.

  3. I have read 8 of the Rougon-Macquart novels (in translation, of course) over the years, and have been hugely impressed by them all. The only exception is, perhaps, Au Bonheur des Dames. It reminded me of Tchaikovsky’s criticism of Brahms’ violin concerto: a fine plinth, he said, but instead of putting a statue on it, there’s just another plinth! Tch. was being a bit unfair on Brahms, I think, but the criticism applies well to this novel: a superb base, constructed with fine eye for detail and with the finger very much on the pulse of the times – but with nothing much to go on top of it. However, the other novels I have read of the series are uniformly superb. I particularly love L’Assommoir, Pot-Bouille, and Nana. And the closing section of La Terre still gives me nightmares.

    Of course, Zola loved to shock, and he had a tendency to, as they say, “go over the top”. But somehow, it wouldn’t be a Zola novel if it didn’t go “over the top”!

  4. Oh, how fun! Thanks for posting about this, I’m going to read about the zoladdiction now!


  5. This is such a good post, thank you 🙂

  6. […] Zoladdiction: a Zola Reading Event in April (severalfourmany.wordpress.com) […]

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