The Kill Paperback
by Emile Zola
Part of the Oxford World's Classics series
'It was the time when the rush for spoils filled a corner of the forest with the yelping of hounds, the cracking of whips, the flaring of torches. The appetites let loose were satisfied at last, shamelessly, amid the sound of crumbling neighbourhoods and fortunes made in six months. The city had become an orgy of gold and women.' The Kill (La Curee) is the second volume in Zola's great cycle of twenty novels, Les Rougon-Macquart, and the first to establish Paris - the capital of modernity - as the centre of Zola's narrative world. Conceived as a representation of the uncontrollable 'appetites' unleashed by the Second Empire (1852-70) and the transformation of the city by Baron Haussmann, the novel combines into a single, powerful vision the twin themes of lust for money and lust for pleasure.
The all-pervading promiscuity of the new Paris is reflected in the dissolute and frenetic lives of an unscrupulous property speculator, Saccard, his neurotic wife Renee, and her dandified lover, Saccard's son Maxime.
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 expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages, 1 map
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 10/07/2008
- Category: Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
- ISBN: 9780199536924
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by arubabookwoman
I've read several of Zola's well-known classics, some of which constitute part of his 20 volume Rougon-Macquart series. Each novel in the series is stand-alone, and they do not have to be read chronologically. However, I decided to read/reread the entire series in order. I read the first volume last December and found it only so so. The Kill is the second volume in the series, and it is magnificent.The Kill (La Curee in French, which means something like 'the division of the spoils') focuses on Aristide Rougon, although his brother Eugene and sister Sidonie play prominent roles as well. Aristide has assumed the surname of his first wife, Saccard, and has come to Paris to make his fortune. Through his brother, he obtains a bureaucratic position as the assistant surveyor of roads for Paris. While initially disheartened by his nominal salary, he soon realizes that his position could enable him to make a fortune in real estate, as the boulevards and throughfares of Paris are just being platted and the property through which they will run is being acquired by the city at grossly inflated prices. However, he can't use his insider information, because he has no capital to invest.This problem is solved when he is offered the opportunity to marry a rich heiress (she is 'damaged goods'), even as his first wife is still on her deathbed. The Kill chronicles the rise and fall of Aristide as an unscrupulous, dishonest real estate wheeler dealer with his second wife Renee, an extravagant, selfish socialite. They flaunt their wealth in their obscenely opulent mansion, Renee's exquisite wardrobe (300,000 F dressmaker bills are not uncommon) and the lavish galas they host. Still, Renee is bored, and seeks something more to make her feel alive. She begins a love affair with her stepson, Aristide's son from his first marriage.This book ran afoul of the censors when it began appearing in serial form in 1871, for its outrage to 'public morals' and 'gross materialism.' Today, I think it is particularly relevant as we continue to feel the after-effects of our own real estate bubble and rampant over-consumption. Although not as comprehensive and wide-ranging as some of Zola's other books, this is also a great one.
Review by Poquette