Saturday 14 August 2021

Book Review: The Kill by Zola (Classics)

Title: The Kill (Les Rougon-Macquart)
Author: Zola
Publisher: Oxford World Classics
Publication Date: 2008 (1871)
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classics
Source: Gift

The Kill (La Curée) 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 Renée, and her dandified lover, Saccard's son Maxime.


I have been reading the Les Rougon-Macquart series in a bizarre order so far, due to the order in which I acquired certain volumes. I started with three and now finished two. I do have one (finally), so I will read that next and then attempt to continue numerically from there for four through twenty! As for The Kill, it was an excellent read in typical Zola style, with darkness amidst atmospheric and poetic prose. Zola's descriptive passages are always compelling, as are his characters, and I certainly loved the portrayals in this one, particularly Renée and Maxime, who are compelling in their many flaws. If you enjoy 19th century literature and have not yet read Zola - what are you waiting for? He paints beautiful, realistic pictures of Paris at that time, while also offering engaging stories and memorable characters :)

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