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Description - Lourdes by Emile Zola

In this moving depiction of a pilgrimage to Lourdes, the master French realist has created a novel of vivid characters and subtle commentary on suffering and the belief in miracles as the last desperate refuge from pain. Based on his own trip to the fabled grotto, the novel follows a simple five-part structure corresponding to the five-day train trip from Paris to Lourdes and back. Zola's brilliant observational powers are at their best as he moves from character to character describing in great detail the physical effects of their illnesses, their hopes, beliefs, fears, and above all endurance. The great novelist himself makes a brief appearance in the story, disguised as a sceptical reporter whose probing questions embarrass a doctor in charge of verifying the alleged miracles. In the end, amidst the tumult of emotions whipped up by religious fervour a miracle of a sort does take place, a psychosomatic cure of a woman suffering from hysterical paralysis. To a few sceptical observers in the entourage the event is a predictable natural occurrence, but to the majority of simple believers it is proof of divine intervention. In our age of televangelists and faith healers, this story has lost none of its relevance.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781573928281
ISBN-10: 1573928283
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 138mm x 27mm)
Pages: 504
Imprint: Prometheus Books
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publish Date: 1-May-2000
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Emile Zola

EMILE ZOLA was born in Paris on April 2, 1840, the son of an Italian-Greek engineer father and a French mother. When Zola was two, his family moved to Aix-en-Provence. His father died soon thereafter, leaving his mother struggling to support herself and the boy. In 1860, after two years of study at the Lycee St-Louis, Zola returned to Paris, where he became a clerk and journalist, and began his writing career. He published a collection of short stories, Conts a Ninon (Stories for Ninon), in 1864, followed by La Confession de Claude (1865), Therese Raquin (1867), and Madeleine Ferat (1868). In 1871 Zola commenced the long series called Les Rougon--Macquart, a sequence of twenty books described in the subtitle as "the natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire." The series included such acclaimed works as Nana (1880), Germinal (1885), LaTerre (1887, Earth), La Bete humaine (1890, The Beast in Man), and Docteur Pascal (1893). Zola's novel Lourdes was published in 1894 as part of the trilogy Les Trois Villes, which included Rome (1896) and Paris (1898). With Gustave Flaubert and others, Zola helped found the Naturalist school of French literature. Its concentration on misery and misfortune swung public taste away from nineteenth--century Romanticism to a middle road of balanced taste. In 1898, Zola espoused the cause of Alfred Dreyfus, a French army officer convicted of treason in 1894. Convinced of Dreyfus's innocence, Zola published his open letter "J'accuse" in the news-paper L'Aurore (January 13, 1898), denouncing the French gen-eral staff. This led to Zola's own trial on charges of offending the French government, which reopened the Dreyfus case to public review. Sentenced to imprisonment, Zola escaped to England. Both Dreyfus and Zola were eventually vindicated, and Zola returned to France in 1899. Zola died on September 28, 1902.

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