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La Terre de Emile Zola
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La Terre (1887 original; edició 1980)

de Emile Zola, Emile Zola (Auteur)

Sèrie: Het land (1-2), Les Rougon-Macquart (15)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
6051128,591 (4.03)73
'Only the earth is immortal...the earth we love enough to commit murder for her.'Zola's novel of peasant life, the fifteenth in the Rougon-Macquart series, is generally regarded as one of his finest achievements, comparable to Germinal and L'Assommoir. Set in a village in the Beauce, in northern France, it depicts the harshness of the peasants' world and their visceralattachment to the land. Jean Macquart, a veteran of the battle of Solferino and now an itinerant farm labourer, is drawn into the affairs of the Fouan family when he starts courting young Francoise. He becomes involved in a bitter dispute over the property of Papa Fouan when the old man divides hisland between his three children. Resentment turns to greed and violence in a Darwinian battle for supremacy.Zola's unflinching depiction of the savagery of peasant life shocked his readers, and led to attacks on Naturalism's literary agenda. This new translation captures the novel's blend of brutality and lyricism in its evocation of the inexorable cycle of the natural world.ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expertintroductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.… (més)
Membre:quilon
Títol:La Terre
Autors:Emile Zola
Altres autors:Emile Zola (Auteur)
Informació:Gallimard (1980), Poche
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

Earth de Émile Zola (1887)

  1. 00
    Animalia de Jean-Baptiste Del Amo (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Both books are brutal ones about peasants' lives and both authors have an extraordinary gift for description.
  2. 00
    The Peasants: Autumn de Ladislas Reymont (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Nobel-winning novel that accomplishes what Zola tried and mostly failed with in The Earth.
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"If the earth was restful and good to those who loved it, the villages that clung to it like nests of vermin, the human insects that lived off its flesh, were enough to dishonour it and blight any contact with it."

Wandering, impoverished veteran Jean Macquart finds himself in a farming village in Northern France in the early 1860s where he becomes an outsider presence in a drunken, bitter, self-serving community. Spanning a decade, Zola's novel of peasant life, published in the late 1880s, caused him plenty of bad press both in France and England. True, he contracts all the bad things which can occur in rural communities, trapped in cycles of violence and greed, and seems to imply that this town represents everyone. But then again, one could say he did this for the aristocrats of The Kill or the urban bourgeoisie in Pot Luck or the comfortable town lives of those in The Conquest of Plassans. Still, his aggressive characters caused especial outrage this time around, and Earth was the novel which saw his early translations in England cast aside and replaced - after a lengthy obscenity trial - with horribly bowdlerised Victorian niceties that effectively ruined his English-language reputation for half a century or more.

Where The Belly of Paris rippled with the tastes and smells of food, and The Masterpiece gave off the whiff of paint and canvas, here, Zola takes his cue from the earth itself. The soil, the manure, the blood and sweat and semen. (I will never forget, as a child in my first agriculture class at school, seeing a bull castrated before my eyes.) There's Hyacinthe, better known because of his appearance as Jesus Christ, who is best known for his incredible ability at musical farting. There's Old Mother Poo (or Mother Caca in another translation I've seen) who sells her bounteous produce at market but only to those who don't mind the fact that she uses her own excrement as fertiliser due to her poverty. And there's the opening sequence, which was enough to ruffle the feathers of the well-to-do, in which teenage Francoise throws her hand in to assist a bull who is to short to reach the vagina of the cow he is trying to impregnate.

The always excellent Brian Nelson's Oxford introduction makes mention of Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of "grotesque realism", a carnival-esque approach first applied to the work of Rabelais, and Nelson is right; the atmosphere of this lengthy novel is more garish, more outsized than many of the works in the series thus far. One of my favourite scenes must be that of Gideon the drunk donkey! And there is much fun and horror to be had in the musical chairs with which an old man is shuffled between his relatives, none of them interested in caring for him but all of them with one eye on the potential inheritance.

By the end of the 1880s, Zola was perhaps France's most famous author, and he no longer felt the need (if he ever had) to coddle his readers. There are scenes here where the author himself makes his presence known in a more forceful, didactic way than we are used to. He still often enjoys unforgettable symbolism (Lise going into labour at the same time as her beloved cow gives birth, the onlookers rushing between the two). His skill at limited third-person perspective has never been better, as he cuts between the viewpoints of the entangled feuds active in the village. But he is also prone to poorly disguising his own moralising in the reported thoughts of Jean Macquart himself. Unusually for this series, it is not really Jean's story, although he is drawn into things late in the piece. Dare I say Zola wanted to write this novel regardless of whether it really fit into his schema?

There are occasional moments here that will give a 21st century reader pause. A revelation near the very end of the novel which a character has just before they are brutally attacked may seem unfair on the part of the reader - or, if psychologically plausible, not built up enough by the author before it comes. Still, this is a richly observed piece of literature. The sumptuous descriptions of the landscape and country life feel so thoroughly freeing. Whether a coal mine, laundrette, food market, parliament, suburban home, or department store, almost every novel in the series thus far has taken place in a deliberately limited sphere. And while we remain in a limited space here too, it's one with vistas and fields as far as the eye can see. An expanse of earth that offers promise or mockery, depending on the eye of the beholder.

For several novels now, the notion of "the Empire" which dominated the early part of the series, has lain dormant, warranting few mentions, if any. Here, though, as the plot skips ahead in bursts from 1860 to 1870, the approaching war clouds grow thicker and clearer. The end may not be here yet - for either the Second Empire or the Rougon-Macquart series - but, if one closes one's eyes and listens carefully, one can hear the thunder. ( )
  therebelprince | Nov 15, 2020 |
When you've already pulled out all the stops, as Zola did in both L'Assommoir and Germinal, how is it possible to go further? Fortunately, Camille Saint-Saëns had shown the way with his third symphony the year before Zola wrote La Terre: all you have to do is end with a complete symphony orchestra in the room in addition to an organ playing full-blast...

This is a book that passes from a gentle, bucolic opening chapter (a man casts his seed on the ground; a teenage girl manipulates a bull's penis...), via fraud, theft, ingratitude, drunken orgies, incest, casual violence and an entire chapter of Rabelaisian farting, to an epic conclusion where rape and murder are brought together with more agricultural disasters than you would find in a stack of Thomas Hardy novels. Nothing is done by halves, nothing is swept under the carpets (not that anyone in this book has a carpet), everything that you can think of that's nasty and offensive about human beings is out there, vaunting itself.

Zola's already shown us numerous times that extreme poverty brings out the worst in human nature: here he's having a go at the way being absolutely dependent on possession of land corrupts human relationships in peasant communities, especially in the light of post-revolutionary inheritance laws that force the division of property. Because everyone wants an equal share of the best land, people can't afford to trust their siblings, or their parents, or their children, and fields are reduced to handkerchief size. No-one can afford to marry someone without a useful parcel of land, and there's every incentive to cheat, murder and rape.

Meanwhile, it also turns out that we're living in a world where farmers overseas can produce grain far more cheaply, and where industry in France is putting pressure on the government to keep food prices at a level where domestic farmers can't possibly cover their costs (plus ça change...). Even the progressive "scientific" farmer, Hourdequin, who has a large land-holding acquired cheaply by his father during the dismantling of aristocratic estates, can't make money.

And everyone in the village is corrupt in one way or another. The woman with the superb vegetables? Manures her garden with human waste. The little girl with the geese? Check your pockets after she's gone past. That nice, retired middle-class couple? Owners of the most successful brothel in Chartres. The café proprietor? A cellar full of untaxed wine. The priest? Well, there isn't one, the council can't agree to spend money on repairing the presbytery. And so on.

A book every town-dweller should read before moving to the country! ( )
  thorold | Apr 3, 2020 |
Puissant, lyrique, et toujours d'actualite!
Quelquechose de sauvage! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
In this novel, set in a farming region not far from Paris, Zola paints a vivid, harsh, and earthy portrait of those who live close to the earth. Although a part of the Rougon-Macquart cycle, the family representative here, Jean Macquart (brother of Gervaise from L'assommoir) has far from a starring role. Instead, the Fouan family, and the broader community, are the true centers of the novel. Jean is an outsider to the community and, though he works for a wealthy and "progressive" farmer, Hourdequin, and comes to love a young cousin of the Fouans, Francçoise, he always remains on the periphery of the novel, even though it starts with his initial meeting with Francçoise, as he is sowing grain on Hourdequin's fields and Francçoise comes by with her cow, Coliche, who she is taking to be impregnated by a bull of Hourdequin's (a mating which is quite graphically described, setting the tone for the book).

For this novel is full of graphically described elements, from sex, including casual coupling, attempted rape, rape, and even incest, to the smell of manure (an ever-present component of farming), and the equally smelly output of a character who can control his farts and emits them to make a point, make people laugh, and once engage in a competition. Equally graphically described are the commercial ambitions of some of the characters, who each try to take advantage of the others, by attempting to gain control of additional land, by not paying taxes or other obligations, by chlllingly trying to find the paper bonds the elderly Fouan has hidden, and much more. One wealthy couple made their money by running a thriving brothel in a nearby city (Chartres) which had an army garrison.

But the focus of the story is the extended Fouan family. At the beginning of the novel, the elderly Fouan has been convinced (against the advice of his cruel and even more elderly sister known as La Grande) to distribute his land to his three children: the "respectable" Fanny, married to Delhomme; the violent Buteau, who has impregnated but not married his cousin Lise, older sister of Francçoise; and the ne'er-do-well, frequently drunk, poacher, known as "Jesus Christ" for his long hair and beard (he is the at-will farter). They are supposed to pay him and his wife a pension, but only Fanny and Delhomme do. Over the course of the 10 years of the novel, the readers sees the downward spiral of Fouan, especially after his wife dies an horrific death, partly brought on by the violence of Buteau, and he goes to live with each of his children in turn. In fact, a number of the characters die violent, and indeed often gruesome, deaths, including a granddaughter of La Grande who dies basically from overwork and a character who dies from being pushed onto a scythe.

Many many other characters and subplots are featured in this novel, way too many for me to go into. Some of them involve the way the community interacts with the priest who initially has to come from another town and the sad fate of many of the "Daughters of Mary" who are supposed to set shining examples for other girls, the competition between two innkeepers, the threat of conscription and the various means of avoiding it (interestingly, for a reader who grew up in the Vietnam war era, they have a lottery in which higher numbers mean safety from conscription), the threat of cheap grain from the US which lowers the price the local farmers can get, the grumblings of "radicals," the burden of taxation and financial shenanigans, "scientific" farming, sexual scheming, the economics of keeping a brothel, politics, and on and on. Throughout it all, Zola describes the very hard and endless work of the farmers, including the women, providing vivid portraits of sowing, harvesting, and all the steps in between, keeping animals, and harvesting grapes and making wine, and of the natural world, including storms and searing heat, that so affect the lives of farmers.

I have barely scratched the surface of this novel. As with many of Zola's works, it has a tendency towards the melodramatic, especially at the end; however, it stands up there with his best works.
9 vota rebeccanyc | May 17, 2015 |
Part of the 20-vol Rougon-Marquart cycle. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Émile Zolaautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Crosland, MargaretTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nelson, BrianIntroduccióautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Nelson, BrianTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Parmée, DouglasTranslation and Introductionautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Rose, JulieTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Wikipedia en anglès

No n'hi ha cap

'Only the earth is immortal...the earth we love enough to commit murder for her.'Zola's novel of peasant life, the fifteenth in the Rougon-Macquart series, is generally regarded as one of his finest achievements, comparable to Germinal and L'Assommoir. Set in a village in the Beauce, in northern France, it depicts the harshness of the peasants' world and their visceralattachment to the land. Jean Macquart, a veteran of the battle of Solferino and now an itinerant farm labourer, is drawn into the affairs of the Fouan family when he starts courting young Francoise. He becomes involved in a bitter dispute over the property of Papa Fouan when the old man divides hisland between his three children. Resentment turns to greed and violence in a Darwinian battle for supremacy.Zola's unflinching depiction of the savagery of peasant life shocked his readers, and led to attacks on Naturalism's literary agenda. This new translation captures the novel's blend of brutality and lyricism in its evocation of the inexorable cycle of the natural world.ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expertintroductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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