Therese Raquin Paperback
by Emile Zola
Edited by Robin Buss
Perhaps his most famous work, Emile Zola's Therese Raquin is a dark and gripping story of lust, violence and guilt, set in the gloomy back streets of Paris.
This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Robin Buss. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Therese Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille.
The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband's earthy friend Laurent, but their animal passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever.
Therese Raquin caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and borught its twenty-seven-year-old author a notoriety that followed him throughout his life.
Zola's novel is not only an uninhibited portrayal of adultery, madness and ghostly revenge, but also a devastating exploration of the darkest aspects of human existence. Robin Buss's translation superbly conveys Zola's fearlessly honest and matter-of-fact style. In his introduction, he discusses Zola's life and literary career, and the influence of art, literature and science on his writing.
This edition also includes the preface to the second edition of 1868, a chronology, further reading and notes. Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction.
His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877). If you enjoyed Therese Raquin, you might like Zola's Germinal, also available in Penguin Classics.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 29/07/2004
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780140449440
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Showing 1 - 5 of 12 reviews.
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Review by RoseCityReader
Published in 1867, Thérèse Raquin is Emile Zola’s first novel and a magnificent proto-noir thriller. All the necessary elements are here -- a hot-to-trot young wife, an invalid husband, a greedy lover – all simmered together in a Parisian stew of lust, murder, deception, debauchery, and guilt. With the macabre ghoulishness of Poe and the diabolical desperation of Cain, Thérèse Raquin should be on any noir-lover's bookshelf.
Review by mabe
Zola painted Camille as a man devoid of redeeming features. We were routing for Laurant to finish him off so that he and Thesese could indulge their passion. However, when the moment came it was truly horrible. The downward and agonising descent into madness and eventual mutual suicide was difficult to read.
Review by Bellettres
If this had not been a selection of our book group, I would not have finished it. I think it might have been a better read in the original French, but this translation was stilted and repetitive. The characters do not seem real, nor do their actions. Their crime haunts them, but only because they both have unbelievably over-active imaginations. Zola certainly evokes the misery and the hopelessness of their lives, but I was hard-pressed to care. If this is classic literature, you can have it!
Review by StevenTX
Therese Raquin is a harrowing story of lust, murder, terror, and madness.A French officer brings his black-haired love child, the daughter of his North African mistress, to his sister in France, a Mme Raquin. He returns to Africa where he is soon reported killed. Mme Raquin, a widow, is only too happy to raise her orphaned niece as a companion to her sickly son Camille. Young Thérèse, full of healthful vitality, is forced to endure the claustrophobic life of her sick cousin. Seeing nothing of the world, she becomes a silent introvert, suppressing her natural desires. When she reaches adulthood, Thérèse apathetically complies when Mme Raquin insists that she marry Camille so she can continue to be his caretaker. Thérèse gradually comes to loathe her banal, sickly husband, but continues to repress her feelings and desires. This comes to an end when she meets Laurent, Camille's virile, self-indulgent friend. The two begin a passionate affair behind the backs of the unsuspecting mother and husband. When circumstances make it impossible for them to continue their clandestine meetings, sexual frustration drives them to plot to murder Camille so they can eventually marry. The plot is successful, but each is tormented by the fear of detection, and instead of the bliss they expected, their lives become a living hell.The novel created a sensation when it was first published in 1867, for its violence, its sexual candor, and most of all for its amorality. This is a tale devoid of religious content or social message. Zola's defended his novel, saying his purpose was "to study temperament, not character." He contrasts the sanguine nature of Laurent with the nervous constitution of Thérèse, and treats their romance and its tragic end as something as inevitable as a chemical reaction. Zola's psychological analysis may seem primitive and simplistic, but it was a bold venture for its time. The characters and their mental states are always believable even though modern psychologists would explain them in more sophisticated terms.Therese Raquin has none of the social criticism for which Zola's later novels are known. Instead it bears a strong resemblance to some of the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, whose writings probably influenced Zola. It does, however, convey a sense of the lives, institutions, and surroundings of mid-19th century Paris. It is an intense and memorable novel, highly recommended.
Review by writestuff
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