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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Nais Micoulin - A Novella by Emile Zola (1884)

Paris in July - Year Ten - hosted by Thyme for Tea

So far as my participation in Paris In July Year Ten I have read 

1.  Colette- Two Early Short Stories
2. The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano 
3. "A Duel" by Guy de Maupassant ( A Franco-Prussian War Story)
4. Life, Death, and Betrayal at The Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar Mazzeo (non fiction)
5. How the French Invented Love by Marilyn Yolem (literary history)
6. "The Lost Child" by Francois Coppée 
7. "The Juggler of Norte Dame" by Anatole France- no post
8. A Very French Christmas- A Collection of the Greatest Holiday Stories of France
9. "The Illustrious Gaudissart" by Honore de Balzac
10. After the Circus by Patrick Modiano
11. "Gaudissart II" by Honore de Balzac
12. 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Phillipe Blondel
13. "Noel" by Irene Nemirovsky 
14. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
15. The Madeleine Project by Clara Beaudoux
16. Nais Micoulin by Emile Zola

Along with Honore de Balzac, Emile Zola (1840 to 1904) is one of the two greatest chroniclers of French life.  His cycle of twenty novels, Les Rougan-Macquarie chronicles the lives of two fictional interrelated families during The Second Empire (1852 to 1870).  The works take us into brothels, drinking dens of the very poor of Paris, high end brothels, coal mines, a department store, the city food market and lets us see the intricacies of the financial dealings at the top of Paris Life.  We meet washerwomen and countesses, rouges, virgins (though not for too long), ministers of finance and farmers.  Reading through this cycle was a great reading life experience for me.  I read this in The Delphi Edition of the works of Zola.  It would be difficult to read this other than in a digital collection.

I wanted to include Zola in my readings for Paris in July Year Ten.  Looking through the collection there is a novel called Paris but it is part three of a trilogy, the other segments are London and Lourdes.  I see this as a hopefully July in Paris 2018 Project.  There are a number of short stories in the collection, last year I posted for the event upon "The Boot Licking Virgin", as salacious a story as Zola probably felt comfortable with in 1880.

This year's Zola work, Nais Micoulin, a novella, also has a strong for the time sexual theme.  There are seven characters in this story of rich Parisians at their country home on the Atlantic coast in Provence.  We have an attorney, his wife, their only child Ferderic,  a caretaker of their estate, who also fishes, and his daughter Nais, his wife and a mentally challenged hunchback with a dog like devotion to Nais.  The two children, meeting at age 12, become very close even though the boy's doting mother does not approve the relationship.  Time goes by and Fredefic grows into a spoiled playboy.  Then as then one year he notices Nais has developed into a beautiful woman.  They begin a secret affair, love under the moonlight.  Nais is deeply in love with Frederic.  I don't want to give away to much plot but the father discovers them asleep together and determines to murder Frederic.  He knows he has to be careful as he will automatically be considered in the wrong. His attempt to shot him from ambush is thwarted by Nais.  To complicate the plot, he often beats her to establish his status as father, as was accepted.  The story takes an intriguing turn I did not see coming.  If the story has a theme it is that money wins out over Love and birth is destiny.

I'm glad I read this work.  It is a very good mini-Zola.

Mel u

1 comment:

Brona said...

I love the idea of a mini-Zola!!
I don't like reading stuff on screens, but it sounds like this is only available via digital means...sigh!