Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review - "Therese Raquin" by Emile Zola

This is a bleak and gruesome psychological tale that highlights the dark side of human nature and it's definitely not for the faint-hearted.

I'm giving it 3 stars because I personally do not like the lengthy, repulsive description of human evilness. That being said, the story is no doubt a gripping page-turner.

In the "Preface" of the book, Emile Zola summed up nicely what he intended to explore with this novel:

"In a word, I had only one aim, which was: given a powerful man and an unsatisfied woman, to seek within them the animal, and even to see in them only the animal, to plunge them together into a violent drama and then take scrupulous note of their sensations and their actions. I simply carried out on two living bodies the same analytical examination that surgeons perform on corpses."

As much as I don't like the macabre and cruel tone that permeates the novel, Zola does impress me that he was indeed trying, as he claimed, to present a study of the temperaments of Laurent and Therese and how the environment and situations they find themselves in impact on their respective psyches. It must have been an ambitious attempt on his part to write such kind of psychological novel in his times.

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