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The Fortune of the Rougons by Émile Zola
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THE FORTUNE OF THE ROUGONS

By Emile Zola


Edited With Introduction By Ernest Alfred Vizetelly




INTRODUCTION

"The Fortune of the Rougons" is the initial volume of the
Rougon-Macquart series. Though it was by no means M. Zola's first essay
in fiction, it was undoubtedly his first great bid for genuine literary
fame, and the foundation of what must necessarily be regarded as his
life-work. The idea of writing the "natural and social history of a
family under the Second Empire," extending to a score of volumes, was
doubtless suggested to M. Zola by Balzac's immortal "Comedie Humaine."
He was twenty-eight years of age when this idea first occurred to him;
he was fifty-three when he at last sent the manuscript of his concluding
volume, "Dr. Pascal," to the press. He had spent five-and-twenty years
in working out his scheme, persevering with it doggedly and stubbornly,
whatever rebuffs he might encounter, whatever jeers and whatever insults
might be directed against him by the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the
hypocritical. Truth was on the march and nothing could stay it; even as,
at the present hour, its march, if slow, none the less continues athwart
another and a different crisis of the illustrious novelist's career.

It was in the early summer of 1869 that M. Zola first began the actual