Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

I enjoyed Thérèse Raquin much more than I thought I would. This was my first Zola and I was prepared for long, drawn-out prose and perhaps a less-than-exciting, 19th century plot. It was a nice surprise that this book turned out to be wonderfully creepy and suspenseful (save the somewhat slow start). The direct prose read quickly and while the translation didn't give the text much richness, I'm wondering what Zola's unaltered French prose was like. 

My first thought upon completing this book: It would be perfect to read around Halloween, specifically for the RIP challenge. It's a story of twisted, turbulent, tormented love at it's finest. The cover art really speaks toward the content. 
These sudden, alternating sensations of desire and disgust, the successive touch of flesh burning with love and of cold flesh softened by the mud, made him pant and shudder, gasping in horror. 
Thérèse Raquin is a work of naturalist fiction in which Zola uses a detached tone to study the animal-like lovers Thérèse and Laurent after they murder for the sake of their love, only to become painfully haunted by their actions. Thérèse Raquin examines human instinct, dark passion and moral decline and explores the free will of the "human animal". It's both erotic and meticulously detached, and all-in-all, shocking. 

Publisher: Penguin Classics, 1867


  1. Zola is a mean bastard. I'm not too much of a fan of his, but I can admit that he knows how to drive his characters to the edge. Glad you liked it. Nineteenth century French writers were the best. Dumas was great, Flaubert was decent also. You might want to check them out.

  2. Ben, Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not very widely read when it comes to 19th century French lit, save Les Miserables.

  3. If you like Les Miserables, "Notre-Dame-de-Paris" is not too shabby either. I rarely hated a character as bad as I hated Esmeralda.

  4. Interessant. Peut-être je lirai cela.