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.
Buy Lourdes book by Emile Zola from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(215mm x 140mm x 25mm)
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Country of Publication: