Emile Zola. A Love Episode
Produced by Dagny, John Bickers and David Widger,
This eBook was prepared from the edition published by the Societe
des Beaux-Arts in 1905 for the Comedie d'Amour Series. Registered
copy Number 153 of 500.
[Illustration: Comedie d'Amour Series]
A LOVE EPISODE
ILLUSTRATED BY DANTAN
[Illustration: Emile Zola]
ZOLA AND HIS WRITINGS
Emile Zola was born in Paris, April 2, 1840. His father was Francois Zola, an Italian engineer, who constructed the Canal Zola in Provence. Zola passed his early youth in the south of France, continuing his studies at the Lycee St. Louis, in Paris, and at Marseilles. His sole patrimony was a lawsuit against the town of Aix. He became a clerk in the publishing house of Hachette, receiving at first the modest honorarium of twenty-five francs a week. His journalistic career, though marked by immense toil, was neither striking nor remunerative. His essays in criticism, of which he collected and published several volumes, were not particularly successful. This was evidently not his field. His first stories,
And now dawned in Zola's teeming brain the vast conception of a 'Naturalistic Comedy of Life.' It was to be Balzac 'naturalized,' so to speak. The great cycle should run through the whole gamut of human passions, foibles, motives and interests. It should consist of human documents, of painstaking minuteness of detail and incontrovertible truth.
The idea of destiny or heredity permeates all the works of this portentously ambitious series. Details may be repellant. One should not 'smell' a picture, as the artists say. If one does, he gets an impression merely of a small blotch of paint. The vast canvas should be studied as a whole. Frailties are certainly not the whole of human nature. But they cannot be excluded from a comprehensive view of it. The '
But Zola's work was not finished. A series of three romances on cities showed a continuance of power. They are
The attitude which Zola took in reference to the wretched Dreyfus scandal will add greatly to his fame as a man of courage and a lover of truth. From this filthy mess of perjury and forgery Zola's intrepidity and devotion to justice arise clear and white as a lily from a cesspool.
Several of Zola's books have been dramatized.
Zola died suddenly at his home in Paris, in September, 1902. He received a public funeral, Anatole France delivering an oration at the grave. There is every indication that Zola's great reputation as an artist and philosopher will increase with the passing of the years.
C. C. STARKWEATHER.
A LOVE EPISODE
The night-lamp with a bluish shade was burning on the chimney-piece, behind a book, whose shadows plunged more than half the chamber in darkness. There was a quiet gleam of light cutting across the round table and the couch, streaming over the heavy folds of the velvet curtains, and imparting an azure hue to the mirror of the rosewood wardrobe placed between the two windows. The quiet simplicity of the room, the blue tints on the hangings, furniture, and carpet, served at this hour of night to invest everything with the delightful vagueness of cloudland. Facing the windows, and within sweep of the shadow, loomed the velvet-curtained bed, a black mass, relieved only by the white of the sheets. With hands crossed on her bosom, and breathing lightly, lay Helene, asleep-mother and widow alike personified by the quiet unrestraint of her attitude.
In the midst of the silence one o'clock chimed from the timepiece. The noises of the neighborhood had died away; the dull, distant roar of the city was the only sign of life that disturbed those Trocadero heights. Helene's breathing, so light and gentle, did not ruffle the chaste repose of her bosom. She was in a beauteous sleep, peaceful yet sound, her profile perfect, her nut-brown hair twisted into a knot, and her head leaning forward somewhat, as though she had fallen asleep while eagerly listening. At the farther end of the room the open door of an adjoining closet seemed but a black square in the wall.
Still there was not a sound. The half-hour struck. The pendulum gave but a feeble tick-tack amid the general drowsiness that brooded over the whole chamber. Everything was sleeping, night-lamp and furniture alike; on the table, near an extinguished lamp, some woman's handiwork was disposed also in slumber. Helene in her sleep