by Emile Zola
Part of the Oxford World's Classics series
'The irresistible power of money, a lever that can lift the world.
Love and money are the only things.' Aristide Rougon, known as Saccard, is a failed property speculator determined to make his way once more in Paris.
Unscrupulous, seductive, and with unbounded ambition, he schemes and manipulates his way to power.
Financial undertakings in the Middle East lead to the establishment of a powerful new bank and speculation on the stock market; Saccard meanwhile conducts his love life as energetically as he does his business, and his empire is seemingly unstoppable.
Saccard, last encountered in The Kill (La Curee) in Zola's Rougon-Macquart series, is a complex figure whose story intricately intertwines the worlds of politics, finance, and the press.
The repercussions of his dealings on all levels of society resonate disturbingly with the financial scandals of more recent times.
This is the first new translation for more than a hundred years, and the first unabridged translation in English.
The edition includes a wide-ranging introduction and useful historical notes. 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: 432 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Publication Date: 01/12/2014
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780199608379
- Paperback / softback from £17.95
- Hardback from £22.95
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by StevenTX
L'Argent (translated as Money) was one of Émile Zola's last novels, but in terms of internal chronology it comes fairly early in his sequence of Rougon-Macquart novels. It is essentially a direct sequel to La Cureé (The Kill, published 1872) which introduces us to the character of Aristide Saccard who rises to wealth and power in Paris through real estate speculation.In the opening pages of Money, Saccard has lost his fortune. He is sitting in a café outside the Bourse, the French stock exchange, wanting desperately to be again part of the action. Soon he encounters a neighbor, Hamelin, an engineer who has done surveys of the Middle East and makes Saccard aware of some enticing business opportunities there. Saccard's imagination takes flight, and with the assistance of Hamelin's sister, Caroline, he establishes a bank with the goal of exploiting the Levant by creating a shipping cartel, a silver mine, and a network of railroads.Saccard's bank, the Universal, is a castle in the air built of air. Directors "buy" shares by promising money they don't have. The rising price entices common people to invest their life savings in the bank. Saccard uses this money to have the bank illegally buy its own shares, thus inflating the price and attracting more investors. It is obvious from the beginning that the enterprise will collapse, ruining everyone involved in it.But, in the meantime, the bank's goals are being met. The shipping cartel improves service in the Mediterranean. The silver minds employ thousands who would otherwise be living in poverty. The railroads begin the process of modernizing the Ottoman Empire. This is the enigma Zola presents us: the Universal is a sham built on speculation and deception, yet the outcome is admirable. Money is the engine of progress and prosperity, but it is also a poison that corrupts and destroys.Saccard himself is a character compelled to succeed. He isn't a miser--he spends money as fast as he makes it. But he is relentlessly driven to rise to the top at all costs. His sexual liaisons, with his partner Caroline and others, are a necessary release, but never get in the way of his ambition. Eventually he gives up his private life. "Indeed, from that moment on Saccard was no longer his own man. He belonged to the millions he was making." He is a monster capitalist, but one we can view with a certain amount of sympathy as we would an alcoholic or compulsive gambler.In Zola's zeal to criticize the materialist excesses of the Second Empire, he took events which actually took place much later and transposed them into the reign of Napoleon III. He gives us a detailed picture of the Bourse in operation, but the financial machinations can be confusing. Zola is at his best with lavish visual detail, but the world of finance affords little opportunity to exercise those talents. His occasional glimpses into the lives of the outcasts living on the pickings and leavings of the stock market are the most memorable scenes in the novel. Money is appropriately regarded as one of the lesser entries into the Rougon-Macquart series, and that is undoubtedly why it wasn't until this year (2014) that it receive its first modern English translation. It is a good novel and definitely recommended for Zola fans, but it is far from being Zola at his best.