My Discovery of Zola

Realism to Naturalism, my search unearthed the master of Naturalism, Emile Zola!

Literary realism is a movement that depicts reality by portraying mundane everyday experiences as they are in real life. It primarily deals with the life course of middle and lower classes. The shift happened during the ninetieth century, which took an alternative narrative from the usual one, which was about exotic and poetic romanticism.

The roots of literary realism lie in France. The two prominent figures were Honore de Balzacand Gustave Flaubert, who adopted and gave wings to realist narration. The change occurred because then the works of Romanticism were thought to be exotic. Even though they celebrated the uniqueness and impermanence of every human life by living their lives through emotional experiences, it lost the connection with real world.

Once realism started gaining momentum, that was the exact time when George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) published ‘Middle March’, a study of provincial life in 1871.

There are about 6 types of Literary Realism,

  1. Magical Realism: One Hundred Year of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
  2. Social Realism: Les Miserables (1862)
  3. Kitchen Sink Realism: Room At The Top (1957)
  4. Socialist Realism: something created and adopted by the communists.
  5. Naturalism
  6. Psychological Realism: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyvesky (1866)

I have explored all other kinds of realism except Naturalism. So this new opportunity pushed my curiosity to widen the horizons to learn more about and get acquainted with Naturalism.

Naturalism is considered to be the extreme form of realism influenced by Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, was said to be founded by Emila Zola, the French writer. Naturalism explores and investigates all social and environmental phenomena in the belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world. Here super naturals and spiritual experiences are negated and the focus shifts on to that explanation that comes from the law of the nature.

Then I realized that I have already read some works that can be categorically called as Naturalism. Then I wasn’t aware of the literary branch I was exploring through my readings. Till then I was observed into English and Russian literature marvels, this discovery of Naturalism opened an avenue, a secret door to French Literature as well.

I decided to begin with the works of the father of Naturalism, Emila Zola. I was not at all disappointed. I bought The Entire collection of Emila Zola on my Kindle, and I was excited to explore the new world of literature with the fascination of a child. I began with his short stories and it gave me the satisfaction of a piping hot meal, or like indulging a perfectly baked cake, delicious!

Almost through the short story collection, now I am eager to read his novel, and it is kind of cool off period for me to make a decision on what am I going to pick? Should I begin with his early novels or should I jump into the literary series consisting of 20 books called ‘Rougon-Macquart.

I guess I will be picking the 20-book series after completing his novel called ‘Therese Raquin’, the novel which undoubtedly put him in the map of French Literature.

And here we come, my discovery of Emila Zola and the journey into the best of works on Naturalism. It all started with reading an article about Realism, through which I detected naturalism on my radar. It is an immense discovery of an author who pioneered this literary movement. Like I always believed, we don’t pick books, they pick us, that too only when we are ready to accept them. My moment with Naturalism and Emila Zola had just begun!