Emile Francois Zola 1840 – 1902

Emile Francois Zola 1840 – 1902 was an influential French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism.

Emile Zola knew many of the homeopathic supporters of his time, including Honore de Balzac, Paul Cezanne, Gustave Flaubert, Victor Hugo, Joris Karl Huysmans, Edouard Manet, Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant,

There is some evidence that Zola knew Rudolf Steiner, who also campaigned against the injustice done to Alfred Dreyfus,

Zola was born in Paris in 1840. His father, François Zola (originally Francesco Zolla), was an Italian engineer. With his French wife, Émilie Aurélie Aubert, the family moved to Aix-en-Provence, in the southeast, when he was three years old. Four years later, in 1847, his father died, leaving his mother on a meagre pension.

In 1858, the Zolas moved to Paris, where Émile’s childhood friend the painter Paul Cezanne soon joined him. Zola started to write in the romantic style. His widowed mother had planned a law career for Émile, but he failed his Baccalauréat examination.

Before his breakthrough as a writer, Zola worked as a clerk in a shipping firm, and then in the sales department for publisher Louis Christophe Francois
Hachette
. He also wrote literary and art reviews for newspapers.

As a political journalist, Zola did not hide his dislike of Napoleon III, who had successfully run for the office of President under the constitution of the French Second Republic, only to misuse this position as a springboard for the coup d’état that made him emperor.

During his early years, Émile Zola wrote several short stories and essays, four plays and three novels. Among his early books was Contes à Ninon, published in 1864. With the publication of his sordid autobiographical novel La Confession de Claude (1865) attracting police attention, Hachette fired him. His novel Les Mystères de Marseille appeared as a serialized story in 1867.

After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the long series called Les Rougon Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire.

More than half of Zola’s novels were part of this set of 20 collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Unlike Honore de Balzac who in the midst of his literary career resynthesized his work into La Comédie Humaine, Zola from the outset at the age of 28 had thought of the complete layout of the series.

Set in France’s Second Empire, the series traces the “environmental” influences of violence, alcohol, and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. The series examines two branches of a single family: the respectable (that is, legitimate) Rougons and the disreputable (illegitimate) Macquarts, for five generations.

As he described his plans for the series, “I want to portray, at the outset of a century of liberty and truth, a family that cannot restrain itself in its rush to possess all the good things that progress is making available and is derailed by its own momentum, the fatal convulsions that accompany the birth of a new world.”

Although Zola and Paul Cezanne were friends from childhood and in youth, they broke in later life over Zola’s fictionalized depiction of Paul Cezanne and the Bohemian life of painters in his novel L’Œuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886).

From 1877 onwards with the publication of l’Assommoir, Émile Zola became wealthy–he was better paid than Victor Hugo, for example. He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organized cultural dinners with Henri Rene Albert Guy de Maupassant, Joris Karl Huysmans and other writers at his luxurious villa in Medan near Paris after 1880. Germinal in 1885, then the three ‘cities’, Lourdes in 1894, Rome in 1896 and Paris in 1897, established Zola as a successful author.

The self-proclaimed leader of French naturalism, Zola’s works inspired operas such as those of Gustave Charpentier, notably Louise in the 1890s. His works, inspired by the concepts of heredity (Claude Bernard), social manichaeism and idealistic socialism, resonate with those of Felix Nadar, Edouard Manet and subsequently Gustave Flaubert.

Alfred Dreyfus worked in the army as an engineer. When the French intelligence found information about someone giving the German embassy military secrets, all evidence pointed to Ferdinand Esterhazy, a German connections worker, as the traitor.

The French military, in particular Major H. J. Henry of the intelligence service, said that this was impossible and that Esterhazy couldn’t have done it. To cover up for Esterhazy, the French Guiana used Alfred Dreyfus as a scapegoat and arrested him for treason. …

Émile Zola risked his career and even his life on 13 January 1898, when his “J’accuse“, was published on the front page of the Paris daily, L’Aurore. The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to the President, Félix Faure.

Émile Zola’s “J’Accuse” accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and antisemitism by having wrongfully convicted a Jewish artillery captain, Alfred Dreyfus, to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island in French Guiana. Zola declared that Alfred Dreyfus‘ conviction and removal to an island prison came after a false accusation of espionage and was a miscarriage of justice.

The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church, and the more liberal commercial society.

The ramifications continued for many years; on the 100th anniversary of Zola’s article, France’s Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.

Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honor. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England.

Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the government fall.

The government offered Alfred Dreyfus a pardon (rather than exoneration), which he could accept and go free and so effectively admit that he was guilty, or face a re-trial in which he was sure to be convicted again.

Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Emile Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” In 1906, Alfred Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The 1898 article by Émile Zola is widely marked in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the State.

Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney. He was 62 years old. His enemies were blamed because of previous attempts on his life, but nothing could be proven. (Decades later, a Parisian roofer claimed on his deathbed to have closed the chimney for political reasons).

Zola was initially buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, but on 4 June 1908, almost six years after his death, his remains were moved to the Panthéon, where he shares a crypt with Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.

Of interest:

Georges Charpentier 1846 – 1905 was a French publisher, and the publisher of Emile Francois Zola, may have been related to homeopath A Charpentier, who practiced in Valenciennes in 1872, and Georges Charpentier was also a friend of Georges de Bellio, Edgar Degas, Paul Ferdinand Gachet, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir,

In 1797, Walter Scott, married Margaret Genevieve Charpentier (or Charpenter), daughter of Jean Charpentier of Lyon in France,

In 1916, Camille Charpentier worked at the Anglo French Homeopathic Hospital at Neilly,

One thought on “Emile Francois Zola 1840 – 1902”

  1. In addition to the remarkable article on Emile Zol, french writer and author of the top historical book JE ACCUSE!
    Rudolf Steiner, austrian philosopher and founder of the Anthroposofy as dissendent of the Teosophical Society founded by Madame Helena Blavastka, in London last century 19th, used diluted and dinamized homeopathic potencies to manufacture anthroposfical remedies produced by Weleda Lab.worldwide nowadays…
    Certainly Rudolph Steiner studied deeperly Homeopathiy with basis on the teachings by Dr.Hahnemann,MD, who was also a remarkable freemason and esotherist in accordance to the historical sources available on his written works for confirmation such data and developed the pharmacotechnical proceesing & manual manufacturing (triple embending) of homeopathic remedies by LM potency(6th,edition of the Organon) in accordance to the pharmacological principles of spargiric medicine used by ancients alchemists since Paracelsus,MD as well…

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