Zola, Emilie: Germinal (Study Questions)

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Study Questions for Zola`s Germinal Not content merely to follow in the footsteps of such realists as GustaveFlaubert Madame Bovary ), Émile Zola decided to createhis own literary movement and call it naturalism. A variant ofrealism, it emphasizes even more than realism careful research to preparesettings and other details to be described. Zola`s theories also embody a kindof determinism in which the characters` heredity and environment essentiallydetermine their actions. Characters are representative types rather thanunique individuals. Groups are often important. In addition, Zola`s naturalistnovels usually end in some sort of large-scale catastrophe. Modern disasternovels and films can trace their heritage back to Germinal. Germinalis part of a 20-volume series of novels depicting variousaspects of life in France in the second half of the nineteenth century, intendedas a kind of sequel to Honoré de Balzac`s Human Comedy,which was a lengthy series of stories and novels depicting the early part of thecentury. Characters reoccur in various books and are related to characters inother books. Étienne Lantier, for instance, was born to alcoholicparents in L`assommoir (1877) and became a leader of the radicaland disastrous uprising of the 1870 Commune in La débâcle (1892) and is the brother of the protagonist of Nana (1880). The series as a whole is called after the two families whosegenetic inheritance determines the fates of their members: the Rougon-Macquart. Labor groups ...

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