Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, August 15, 2014

Doctor Pascal by Emile Zola - 1893. The Final Novel in the Rougon Macquart Cycle

Doctor Pascal is the last of twenty novels in Emile Zola's grand Rougon Macquart Cycle.  I began reading the cycle, in publication order, skipping the four I had already read May 10 this year.  I am very glad I decided to read through the complete cycle.  The novels are very uneven in quality, from work to work as well as in individual novels.  As I was reading sometimes I thought is this  ever going to be over and then just as I was wondering if I could go on I would enter into segments of transcendent qualitity that just amazed me.  If there is a weakness in the work of Zola, this is just my thoughts, it is in the romances and the long rhapsodies on young girls.  I sense Zola equates sex or the lost of virginity as an act of corruption, an abandonment of the good and maybe God to embrace the world in all its corruption.  For sure once a woman has sex, married or not, something bad will soon happen.

Doctor Pascal is not a book to be read as a stand alone.  It is kind of a reward for completing the cycle in that Doctor Pascal sums up each of the members of the Rougon and Marquart families in a just magnificent chapter.  I loved it.  The rest of the book is devoted to the researches into human heriditary of the doctor and his life as a country doctor.  He, at fifty nine, marries a twenty year old woman.  This lends itself to prime Zola pot boiler stuff.  Every thing is wonderful for a while then....

These lines seemed like a kind of summing up

Very soon I will do a sort of summing up post and give my thoughts on who should read the full cycle and where those who hesitate to make this commitment, should start. 

No comments: