Zola's early work on the theme of decadence and promiscuity that would later feature prominently in his novels,
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This review is from: La Confession de Claude (French Edition) (Kindle Edition)
The French edition is the only one on Kindle, though the English version is available in paperback. I enjoyed reading this novel in its original French text which contains some beautiful paragraphs and some of the most descriptive of inner turmoil and emotional upheaval. The general theme of the book leads one to think of La Faute de L'abbe Mouret, one of the Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels, because of the similarities in the protagonist character and beliefs, and in some of the narrative metaphoric descriptions of paradise versus urban decadence and fall from grace. Claude is a naive puritan dreamer who decides to put his dreams to the test and to go in search of and to experience real life, only to spend his time in torment over his physical downfall and the struggle to reconcile the two worlds. Somehow between the ensnaring urban place that man has created and the green peaceful and pure paradise-like countryside there is an intervening terrain of quagmire that belongs to neither but which is self created. The main point of the novel is the portrayal of both Marie and Laurence as victims of society, the first only doing innocently and in good faith what she would have done to her little doll, the second grasping the materialistic side of life and trying to fit into it without second thoughts or any regrets. The novel is vintage early Zola, and sets the scene and the direction for his later works.