Thursday, June 9, 2011

Èmile Zola, The Kill [La Curée] (1872)

For those inclined to trace the origins of naturalistic crime fiction—a.k.a. noir—beyond Frank Norris’s McTeague (1899), the next logical stop is French naturalist Èmile Zola. The Kill (La Curée), the second in Zola’s twenty-volume cycle Les Rougon-Marcquart, traffics in familiar noir themes of uncontrolled greed and lust. The novel begins in medias res as we are plunged into the tacky decadence of the nouveau riche of the Second Empire, and then rewinds to show how the environment of Paris created Aristide Saccard (greed) and his wife Renée (lust). The novel can be slow at times, as its subject is as much Paris itself as Saccard and Renée, but if your interest in noir is at all academic, The Kill is well worth your time. Grade: B

1 comment:

  1. I have about a dozen Zola novels published by Oxford University Books. After your fine review, I need to start reading them.