One forges one's style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.
La Bête Humaine is an 1890 novel by Émile Zola. The story has been adapted for the cinema on several occasions. It is based around the railway between Paris and Le Havre in the 19th century and is a tense, psychological thriller.
The main characters are Roubaud, the deputy station master at Le Havre, his wife Séverine, and Jacques Lantier. Lantier is an engine driver on the line and the family link with the rest of Les Rougon-Macquart series. He is the son of Gervaise (L'Assommoir), the brother of Étienne Lantier (Germinal) and Claude Lantier (L'Œuvre), and the half-brother of the eponymous Nana.
Lantier, the “human beast” of the title, has a hereditary madness and has several times in his life wanted to murder women. At the beginning of the story he is an engine driver, in control of his engine “La Lison”. His relationship with "La Lison" is almost sexual and provides some sort of control over his mania.
As a result of a chance remark, Roubaud suspects that Séverine has had an affair some years earlier, with Grandmorin one of the directors of the railway company, who had acted as her patron and who had helped Roubaud get his job. He forces a confession out of her and makes her write him a letter telling to take a particular train that evening, the same train Roubaud and Séverine are taking back to Le Havre.
Meanwhile, Lantier who is not working while his engine is being repaired goes to visit his Aunt Phasie who lives in an isolated house by the railway. On leaving he meets his cousin Flore, with whom he has had a longstanding mutual attraction. After a brief conversation with her his passions become inflamed and he is on the verge of forcibly having sex with her but this in turn brings on his homicidal mania. He has a desire to stab her but just about controls himself and rushes away. Finding himself beside the railway track as the train from Paris passes, he sees, in a split second, a figure on the train holding a knife, bent over another person. Shortly after, he finds the body of Grandmorin beside the track with his throat cut. It was also discovered that he had been robbed of his watch and some money.
An investigation is launched and Roubaud and Séverine are prime suspects as they were on the train at the time and were due to inherit some property from Grandmorin. The authorities never suspect their true motive. Lantier sees Roubaud while waiting to be interviewed and identifies him as the murderer on the train, but when questioned says he cannot be sure. The investigating magistrate — believing the killer was Cabuche, a carter who lived nearby — dismisses Roubaud and Séverine. The murder remains unsolved.
Despite being cleared of suspicion, the marriage of Roubaud and Séverine declines. Zola casually tosses in a remark that the money and watch stolen from Grandmorin was hidden behind the skirting board in their apartment, thus confirming the reader’s suspicion that Roubaud was the murderer all along. Séverine and Lantier begin an affair, at first clandestinely but then more blatantly until they are caught in flagrante delicto by Roubaud. Despite his previous jealousy, Roubaud seems unmoved and spends less and less time at home and turns to gambling and drink.
Séverine admits to Lantier that Roubaud committed the murder and that together they disposed of the body. Lantier feels the return of his desire to kill and one morning leaves the apartment to kill the first woman he meets. After having picked a victim he is seen by someone he knows and so abandons the idea. He then realises that he has the desire no longer. It is his relationship with Séverine and her association with the murder that has abated his desire.
The relationship between Roubaud and his wife deteriorates when she realises that he has taken the last of the hidden money. Lantier has the opportunity to invest money in a friend’s business venture in New York. Séverine suggests they use the money from the sale of the property they inherited from Grandmorin. Roubaud is now the only obstacle to this new life and they decide to kill him. They approach him one night when he is working as a watchman at the station, hoping that the murder will be attributed to robbers. At the last moment however, Lantier loses his nerve.
Cousin Flore, meanwhile, sees Lantier pass her house every day on the train and noticing Séverine with him, realises they are having an affair and becomes insanely jealous, wishing to kill them both. She hatches a plot to remove a rail from the line in order to cause a derailment of his train. One morning she seizes the opportunity when Cabuche leaves his wagon and horses unattended by the railway. She drags the horses onto the line shortly before the train arrives. In the resulting crash, numerous people are killed and Lantier is seriously injured. Séverine, however, remains unhurt. Wracked by guilt, Flore commits suicide by walking in front of a train.
Séverine nurses Lantier back to health but, in the absence of "la Lison", his mania returns and he murders her. The unfortunate Cabuche is the first to find her body and is accused of killing her at the behest of Roubaud. Both are put on trial for this and the murder of Grandmorin. They are both convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Lantier begins driving again but his new engine is just a number to him. He begins an affair with his chauffeur's girlfriend.
The novel ends as Lantier is driving a train carrying troops towards the front at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. The resentment between Lantier and his chauffeur breaks out as the train is travelling at full steam. Both fall to their deaths as the train full of happy, drunken, patriotic and doomed soldiers hurtles driverless through the night.
(Money) is the eighteenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola. It was serialized in the periodical Gil Blas beginning in November 1890 before being published in novel form by Charpentier et Fasquelle in March 1891. It was translated into English (as Money) by Benj. R. Tucker in 1891 and by Ernest A. Vizetelly in 1894 (new edition 1904; reprinted 1991 and 2007).
The novel focuses on the financial world of the Second French Empire as embodied in the ParisBourse and exemplified by the fictional character of Aristide Saccard. Zola's intent was to show the terrible effects of speculation and fraudulent company promotion, the culpable negligence of company directors, and the impotency of contemporary financial laws.
Aristide Saccard (b. 1815 as Aristide Rougon) is the youngest son of Pierre and Félicité Rougon. He is first introduced in La fortune des Rougon.L'argent is a direct sequel to La curée (published in 1871), which details Saccard's first rise to wealth using underhanded methods. Sensing his unscrupulous nature, his brother Eugène Rougon prompts Aristide to change his surname from Rougon to Saccard.
The novel takes place in 1864-1869, beginning a few months after the death of Saccard's second wife Renée (see La curée). Saccard is bankrupt and an outcast among the Bourse financiers. Searching for a way to reestablish himself, Saccard is struck by plans developed by his upstairs neighbor, the engineer Georges Hamelin, who dreams of restoring Christianity to the Middle East through great public works: rail lines linking important cities, improved roads and transportation, renovated eastern Mediterranean ports, and fleets of modern ships to move goods around the world.
Saccard decides to institute a financial establishment to fund these projects. He is motivated primarily by the potential to make incredible amounts of money and reestablish himself on the Bourse. In addition, Saccard has an intense rivalry with his brother Eugène Rougon, a powerful Cabinet minister who refuses to help him after his bankruptcy and who is promoting a more liberal, less Catholic agenda for the Empire. Furthermore, Saccard, an intense anti-Semite, sees the enterprise as a strike against the Jewish bankers who dominate the Bourse. (In a footnote, Ernest A. Vizetelly, the first British translator of L'argent, draws a distinction between Zola's depiction of this aspect of Saccard's character and Zola's personal pro-Jewish beliefs as manifested in the later Dreyfus affair.)
From the beginning, Saccard's Banque Universelle (Universal Bank) stands on shaky ground. In order to manipulate the price of the stock, Saccard and his confreres on the syndicate he has set up to jumpstart the enterprise buy their own stock and hide the proceeds of this illegal practice in a dummy account fronted by a straw man.
While Hamelin travels to Constantinople to lay the groundwork for their enterprise, the Banque Universelle goes from strength to strength. Stock prices soar, going from 500 francs a share to more than 3,000 francs in three years. Furthermore, Saccard buys several newspapers which serve to maintain the illusion of legitimacy, promote the Banque, excite the public, and attack Rougon.
The novel follows the fortunes of about 20 characters, cutting across all social strata, showing the effects of stock market speculation on rich and poor. The financial events of the novel are played against Saccard's personal life. Hamelin lives with his sister Caroline, who, against her better judgment, invests in the Banque Universelle and later becomes Saccard's mistress. Caroline learns that Saccard fathered a son, Victor, during his first days in Paris. She rescues Victor from his life of abject poverty, placing him in a charitable institution. But Victor is completely unredeemable, given over to greed, laziness, and thievery. After he attacks one of the women at the institution, he disappears into the streets, never to be seen again.
Eventually, the Banque Universelle cannot sustain itself. Saccard's principal rival on the Bourse, the Jewish financier Gundermann, learns about Saccard's financial trickery and attacks, loosing stock upon the market, devaluing its price, and forcing Saccard to buy millions of shares to keep the price up. At the final collapse, the Banque holds one-fourth of its own shares worth 200 million francs. The fall of the Banque is felt across the entire financial world. Indeed, all of France feels the force of its collapse. The effects on the characters of L'argent are disastrous, including complete ruin, suicide, and exile, though some of Saccard's syndicate members escape and Gundermann experiences a windfall. Saccard and Hamelin are sentenced to five years in prison. Through the intervention of Rougon, who doesn't want a brother in jail, their sentences are commuted and they are forced to leave France. Saccard goes to Belgium, and the novel ends with Caroline preparing to follow her brother to Rome.
[Because the financial world is closely linked with politics, L’argent encompasses many historical events, including:
By the end of the novel, the stage is set for the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) and the fall of the Second Empire.
Zola's plan for the Rougon-Macquart novels was to show how heredity and environment worked on members of one family over the course of the Second Empire. All of the descendants of Adelaïde Fouque (Tante Dide), Saccard's grandmother, demonstrate what today would be called obsessive-compulsive behaviors to varying degrees. Saccard is obsessed with money and the building of wealth, to which everything in his life holds second place. In Le docteur Pascal, Zola describes the influence of heredity on Saccard as an "adjection" in which the natures of his avaricious parents are commingled.
Two other members of the Rougon-Macquart family also appear in L'argent: Saccard's sons Maxime (b. 1840) and Victor (b. 1853). If his father's obsession is with building wealth, Maxime's obsession is with keeping it. A widower, Maxime (who played a central role in La curée) lives alone in opulence he does not share. In Le docteur Pascal, Maxime is described as prematurely aged, afraid of pleasure and indeed of all life, devoid of emotion, and cold, characteristics introduced in L'argent. Maxime is described as a "dissemination" of characteristics, having the moral prepotency of his father and the pampered egotism of his mother (Saccard's first wife).
Victor, on the other hand, brought up in squalor, is the furthest extreme Zola illustrates of the Rougon family's degeneracy. Like his great-grandmother Tante Dide, Victor suffers from neuralgic attacks. Unlike Jacques Lantier (his second cousin, see La bête humaine), he is unable to control his criminal impulses, and his disappearance into the streets of Paris is no surprise. Victor is described as a "fusion" of the lowest characteristics of his parents (his mother was a prostitute).
In Le docteur Pascal (set in 1872), Zola tells us that Saccard returns to Paris, institutes a newspaper, and is again making piles of money.
Rougon is the protagonist of Son Excellence Eugène Rougon, the events of which predate L'argent. Saccard's daughter Clotilde (b. 1847) is the main female character in Le docteur Pascal.
The novel starts in the summer of 1870 when, after serious diplomatic tensions, France has declared war on Prussia (the nucleus of Germany, which was then emerging as one nation out of a number of disparate cities, regions and principalities). The French hoped to achieve a quick military victory by marching their armies east, straight to Berlin. Instead, the Prussian armies crossed the Rhine before the French, beat the French Rhine army into retreat and penetrated further into France.
The novel is by far the longest of the Rougon-Macquart series. Its main character is Jean Macquart, a farmer who after having lost his wife and land (which events are described in the novel La Terre), has joined the army for the campaign of 1870. The main theme is the brutality of war for the common soldier and for the civilian population as it is hit by losses of family and friends and by economic hardship. It is written in three parts.
In the first part, the French army corps in which Jean Macquart is a corporal (a grade just above common soldier) moves to the southern part of the Rhine valley, only to retreat to Belfort and to be moved by train back to Paris and then to Reims without having seen battle, in a reaction to the news of the crushing defeat of another corps in the Alsace region followed by a Prussian breakthrough, moving west through the Vosges mountains. The growing demoralisation and fatigue of the French soldiers as they are commanded back and forth in time-consuming and irrelevant manoeuvres is poignantly described. A growing disorganisation of the army becomes apparent as it is unable to move food and equipment to where it is needed. The army corps of Jean is then moved to Reims from which it is supposed to march to the eastern French city of Metz, where another French army is besieged by the Prussians. In a reaction to pressure and movements by the Prussians, the march deviates from its original objective to the north and the French army ends up in the neighbourhood of the city of Sedan, in the valley of the Meuse river near the Belgian border. In the meantime, Jean has befriended Maurice, a soldier whose sister Henriette lives in Sedan.
The second part describes the battle of Sedan. During this battle, the Prussian army succeeds in encircling Sedan and moving its artillery to the hills surrounding the city, trapping the French in the valley in a desperate position. In the ensuing battle, the French army tries to break the encirclement without success. The part describes the battle as seen by the protagonists of the novel, in particular Jean, Maurice, Henriette and Weiss, her husband, a civilian who dies defending his house against the Prussians as they invade his village. The battle ends with the French army being beaten back to Sedan and capitulating to the threat of the Prussians to destroy Sedan (with the people it contains, civilians and army) by means of the artillery. The emperor and the French army at Sedan become prisoners of war.
In the third part of the novel, the French army is held prisoner for a week, after which it is marched to Germany. Jean and Maurice manage to escape. Jean is wounded during the escape and ends up in the neighbourhood of Sedan where he is hidden by Henriette, who also takes care of his medical treatment, the healing taking till winter. After a while, Maurice moves on to Paris, which is then encircled by the Prussians during the winter and early spring of 1871. In the spring of 1871, Jean has rejoined the French army at the service of a new government, which has negotiated an armistice with the Prussians. A popular uprising takes place in Paris, fuelled by the humiliation of the armistice. The French government succeeds in breaking the uprising, during which Jean mortally wounds Maurice, who fights on the side of the insurgents. The novel ends by bringing three of its main characters together; Jean, the dying Maurice and his sister Henriette who has travelled to Paris after having lost contact with her brother for more than two months.
(orig. French Le Docteur Pascal) is the twentieth and final novel of the Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola, first published in June 1893 by Charpentier.
The novel was translated into English by Ernest A. Vizetelly in 1894 (reprinted 1925 and 1995); by Mary J. Serrano in 1898 (reprinted 2005); and by Vladimir Kean in 1957.
Zola's plan for the Rougon-Macquart novels was to show how heredity and environment worked on the members of one family over the course of the Second Empire. He wraps up his heredity theories in this novel. Le docteur Pascal is furthermore essentially a story about science versus faith.
The novel begins in 1872, after the fall of the Second Empire and the end of the reign of Emperor Napoleon III. The title character, Pascal Rougon (b. 1813), is the son of Pierre and Félicité Rougon, whose rise to power in the fictional town of Plassans is detailed in the first novel of the series La fortune des Rougon.
Pascal, a physician in Plassans for 30 years, has spent his life cataloging and chronicling the lives of his family based on his theories of heredity. Pascal believes that everyone's physical and mental health and development can be classified based on the interplay between innateness (reproduction of characteristics based in difference) and heredity (reproduction based in similarity). Using his own family as a case study, Pascal classifies the 30 descendants of his grandmother Adelaïde Fouque (Tante Dide) based on this model.
Pascal has developed a serum he hopes will cure hereditary and nervous diseases (including consumption) and improve if not prolong life. His niece Clotilde sees Pascal's work as denying the omnipotence of God and as a prideful attempt to comprehend the unknowable. She encourages him to destroy his work, but he refuses. (Like other members of the family, Pascal is somewhat obsessive in the pursuit of his passion.) Pascal's explains his goal as a scientist as laying the groundwork for happiness and peace by seeking and uncovering the truth, which he believes lies in the science of heredity. After he shows her the Rougon-Macquart family tree and demonstrates his refusal to sugarcoat the family's acts, Clotilde begins to agree with him. Her love for him solidifies her faith in his theories and his lifelong work.
Clotilde and Pascal eventually begin a romance, much to the chagrin of his mother Félicité. (She is less concerned about the incestuous nature of the relationship than by the fact that the two are living together out of wedlock.) Félicité wants to keep the family secrets buried at any cost, including several family skeletons living nearby: her alcoholic brother-in-law Antoine Macquart and her centenarian mother-in-law Tante Dide. When Clotilde's brother Maxime asks Clotilde to come to Paris, Félicité sees this as an opportunity to control Pascal and access his papers in order to destroy them.
Pascal suffers a series of heart attacks, and Clotilde is not able to return from Paris before he dies. Félicité immediately burns all of Pascal's scholarly work and the documents she considers incriminating. The novel, and the entire 20-novel series, concludes with the birth of Pascal and Clotilde's son and the hope placed on him for the future of the family.
As the last novel in the series, Le docteur Pascal ties up the loose ends of the remaining family members' lives. It is the only Rougon-Macquart novel that has all five generations of the family represented. Furthermore, it is the only novel in which a representative from each of the five generations dies: Tante Dide, Antoine Macquart, Pascal Rougon, Maxime Rougon/Saccard, and his son Charles.
Adelaïde Fouque (Tante Dide), the family ancestress, has lived in an asylum for 21 years. She dies at the age of 105 after witnessing the death of her great-great-grandson Charles. Her eldest son Pierre Rougon, Félicité's husband, died two years before the novel opens. Her younger son Antoine Macquart is a drunk. He dies during the course of the novel when his body, soaked with alcohol from a lifetime of drinking, catches fire.
Clotilde's brother Maxime lives in a Parisian mansion; he is suffering from ataxia and is being preyed upon by his father Aristide Saccard (see L'argent), who wants to get his hands on Maxime's money. Maxime has an illegitimate son named Charles, a hemophiliac, who bleeds to death on an afternoon visit to Tante Dide. Maxime too dies in the last pages of the novel.
In addition, we learn about the following:
Eugène Rougon, Pascal's elder brother, is a deputy in the legislature where he continues to defend the fallen Emperor.
Aristide Saccard, Pascal's younger brother, exiled to Belgium after the fall of the Banque Universelle (see L'argent), has returned to France. He is editor of a newspaper and is again building new and great businesses. After Maxime dies, he pockets his fortune for his own ends.
Victor, Aristide's illegitimate son, has disappeared into the streets of Paris and left no trace (see L'argent).
Sidonie Rougon, Pascal's sister, after a life of impropriety, now lives in "nunlike austerity" as the financial mistress of a home for unwed mothers.
Octave Mouret and his wife Denise (Au bonheur des dames) have two children, a sickly daughter and a robust and healthy son.
Serge Mouret (La faute de l'Abbé Mouret), a parish priest, lives in religious seclusion with his sister Desirée. At the end of Le docteur Pascal, his death is imminent.
Jean Macquart (La terre, La débâcle) has married and lives a town near Plassans. He and his wife have two vital and healthy children, and they are expecting a third at the close of the series. The hope for any enduring strength of the family lies here, as with Clotilde and Pascal's son.