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The Kill (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 10 Jul 2008
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Nelson's translation is preceded by a highly useful and scrupulously researched introduction [with] a depth of analysis rarely found in introduction of this kind... The translation itself is sensitive and elegant...the text reads as an engaging and thoughtful close rereading of the original which is especially effective in bringing Zola's fascination with descriptive detail to the attention of the anglophone reader without syntactically overburdening the prose. (Hannah Thompson, Modern Languages Review vol 102, part1)
Émile Zola's The Kill, in Brian Nelsons thrillingly good Oxford World's Classics translation, is one of the most sensuous, sexy books that I think Ive ever read. (Illuminations)
'It was the time when the rush for spoils filled a corner of the forest with the yelping of hounds, the cracking of whips, the flaring of torches. The appetites let loose were satisfied at last, shamelessly, amid the sound of crumbling neighbourhoods and fortunes made in six months. The city had become an orgy of gold and women.' The Kill (La Curee) 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 Renee, and her dandified lover, Saccard's son Maxime.
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His first wife dies, he then marries a much younger woman for a large dowery and to bring respectability to the lovely Renee, and with this dowry starts his long climb to fame and fortune. Along the way his estranged, and slightly effeminate, son comes to live with him and eventually has an affair with the neurotic Renee.
Zola's poetic descriptions of life and death during the Second Empire and it's lusts for money and pleasure are a delight and his finely drawn characters excite. And being a 19th century novel, it's never going to have a happy ending, but there is none of the sentimentality of, say, a Dickens.
Even though it is only the second of twenty, already his style is firmly cemented for the following stories, and I've not come across a bad one yet!
If you haven't read any Zola yet, don't start here. I would recommend La Bête Humaine, L'Assomoir, Germinal, Therese Racquin, and Nana. These are all brilliant.
If you've read these already, then have a go at this too - but don't expect it to be one of Zola's best.
been a short story.
If your interested to see a painted portrait of excess and the results thereof this is a book to read.
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