The Attack on the Mill: And Other Sketches of War

William Heinemann
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Publisher
William Heinemann
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Published on
Dec 31, 1892
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Pages
177
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Language
English
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Book 3

I

THAT morning, in the little pavilion of Chantebled, on the verge of the woods, where they had now been installed for nearly a month, Mathieu was making all haste in order that he might catch the seven-o'clock train which every day conveyed him from Janville to Paris. It was already half-past six, and there were fully two thousand paces from the pavilion to Janville. Afterwards came a railway journey of three-quarters of an hour, and another journey of at least equal duration through Paris, from the Northern Railway terminus to the Boulevard de Grenelle. He seldom reached his office at the factory before half-past eight o'clock.

He had just kissed the children. Fortunately they were asleep; otherwise they would have linked their arms about his neck, laughed and kissed him, being ever unwilling to let him go. And as he hastily returned to the principal bedroom, he found his wife, Marianne, in bed there, but awake and sitting up. She had risen a moment before in order to pull back a curtain, and all the glow of that radiant May morning swept in, throwing a flood of gay sunshine over the fresh and healthy beauty of her four-and-twenty years. He, who was three years the elder, positively adored her.

"You know, my darling," said he, "I must make haste, for I fear I may miss the train—and so manage as well as you can. You still have thirty sous left, haven't you?"

She began to laugh, looking charming with her bare arms and her loose-flowing dark hair. The ever-recurring pecuniary worries of the household left her brave and joyous. Yet she had been married at seventeen, her husband at twenty, and they already had to provide for four children....

Book 1

INTRODUCTION

'LA FAUTE DE L'ABBE MOURET' was, with respect to the date of publication, the fourth volume of M. Zola's 'Rougon-Macquart' series; but in the amended and final scheme of that great literary undertaking, it occupies the ninth place. It proceeds from the sixth volume of the series, 'The Conquest of Plassans;' which is followed by the two works that deal with the career of Octave Mouret, Abbe Serge Mouret's elder brother. In 'The Conquest of Plassans,' Serge and his half-witted sister, Desiree, are seen in childhood at their home in Plassans, which is wrecked by the doings of a certain Abbe Faujas and his relatives. Serge Mouret grows up, is called by an instinctive vocation to the priesthood, and becomes parish priest of Les Artaud, a well-nigh pagan hamlet in one of those bare, burning stretches of country with which Provence abounds. And here it is that 'La Faute de l'Abbe Mouret' opens in the old ruinous church, perched upon a hillock in full view of the squalid village, the arid fields, and the great belts of rock which shut in the landscape all around.

There are two elements in this remarkable story, which, from the standpoint of literary style, has never been excelled by anything that M. Zola has since written; and one may glance at it therefore from two points of view. Taking it under its sociological and religious aspect, it will be found to be an indirect indictment of the celibacy of the priesthood; that celibacy, contrary to Nature's fundamental law, which assuredly has largely influenced the destinies of the Roman Catholic Church. To that celibacy, and to all the evils that have sprang from it, may be ascribed much of the irreligion current in France to-day. The periodical reports on criminality issued by the French Ministers of Justice since the foundation of the Republic in 1871, supply materials for a most formidable indictment of that vow of perpetual chastity which Rome exacts from her clergy. Nowadays it is undoubtedly too late for Rome to go back upon that vow and thereby transform the whole of her sacerdotal organisation; but, perhaps, had she done so in past times, before the spirit of inquiry and free examination came into being, she might have assured herself many more centuries of supremacy than have fallen to her lot. But she has ever sought to dissociate the law of the Divinity from the law of Nature, as though indeed the latter were but the invention of the Fiend.

Abbe Mouret, M. Zola's hero, finds himself placed between the law of the Divinity and the law of Nature: and the struggle waged within him by those two forces is a terrible one. That which training has implanted in his mind proves the stronger, and, so far as the canons of the Church can warrant it, he saves his soul. But the problem is not quite frankly put by M. Zola; for if Abbe Mouret transgresses he does so unwittingly, at a time when he is unconscious of his priesthood and has no memory of any vow. When the truth flashes upon him he is horrified with himself, and forthwith returns to the Church. A further struggle between the contending forces then certainly ensues, and ends in the final victory of the Church. But it must at least be said that in the lapses which occur in real life among the Roman priesthood, the circumstances are altogether different from those which M. Zola has selected for his story.

Book 2
In the heat of the glowing July afternoon, the room, with blinds carefully closed, was full of a great calm. From the three windows, through the cracks of the old wooden shutters, came only a few scattered sunbeams which, in the midst of the obscurity, made a soft brightness that bathed surrounding objects in a diffused and tender light. It was cool here in comparison with the overpowering heat that was felt outside, under the fierce rays of the sun that blazed upon the front of the house.

Standing before the press which faced the windows, Dr. Pascal was looking for a paper that he had come in search of. With doors wide open, this immense press of carved oak, adorned with strong and handsome mountings of metal, dating from the last century, displayed within its capacious depths an extraordinary collection of papers and manuscripts of all sorts, piled up in confusion and filling every shelf to overflowing. For more than thirty years the doctor had thrown into it every page he wrote, from brief notes to the complete texts of his great works on heredity. Thus it was that his searches here were not always easy. He rummaged patiently among the papers, and when he at last found the one he was looking for, he smiled.

For an instant longer he remained near the bookcase, reading the note by a golden sunbeam that came to him from the middle window. He himself, in this dawnlike light, appeared, with his snow-white hair and beard, strong and vigorous; although he was near sixty, his color was so fresh, his features were so finely cut, his eyes were still so clear, and he had so youthful an air that one might have taken him, in his close-fitting, maroon velvet jacket, for a young man with powdered hair....

 

Emile Zola
Germinal(1885) is the thirteenth novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. Often considered Zola's masterpiece. The novel's central character is Étienne Lantier, previously seen in L'Assommoir (1877), and originally to have been the central character in Zola's "murder on the trains" thriller La Bête humaine (1890) before the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Germinal persuaded him otherwise. The young migrant worker arrives at the forbidding coal mining town of Montsou in the bleak area of the far north of France to earn a living as a miner. Sacked from his previous job on the railways for assaulting a superior, Étienne befriends the veteran miner Maheu, who finds him somewhere to stay and gets him a job pushing the carts down the pit.
Étienne is portrayed as a hard-working idealist but also a naïve youth; Zola's genetic theories come into play as Étienne is presumed to have inherited his Macquart ancestors' traits of hotheaded impulsiveness and an addictive personality capable of exploding into rage under the influence of drink or strong passions. Zola keeps his theorizing in the background and Étienne's motivations are much more natural as a result. He embraces socialist principles, reading large amounts of working class movement literature and fraternizing with Souvarine, a Russian anarchist and political émigré who has also come to Montsou to seek a living in the pits. Étienne's simplistic understanding of socialist politics and their rousing effect on him are very reminiscent of the rebel Silvère in the first novel in the cycle, La Fortune des Rougon (1871).
While this is going on, Étienne also falls for Maheu's daughter Catherine, also employed pushing carts in the mines, and he is drawn into the relationship between her and her brutish lover Chaval…..
Émile Zola
For the first time in the English language, Delphi Classics is proud to present the complete works of the French master Émile Zola. This monumental eBook features beautiful illustrations, informative introductions and a wealth of Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)

* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Zola’s life and works

* Concise introductions to the novels and other works

* The complete Rougon-Macquart cycle, as well as all the other novels and series

* Images of how the books were first printed, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts

* Excellent formatting of the texts

* Many rare novels, including the author’s scandalous first novel, appear here for the first time in digital print

* The complete short stores, including Zola’s first book STORIES FOR NINON – first time in digital print

* Includes Zola’s famous ‘J’ACCUSE!’, with explanatory introduction

* Special criticism section, with essays by famous writers such as Henry James and James Joyce, evaluating Zola’s contribution to literature

* Features a biography by Zola’s English translator – follow Zola’s literary life when fleeing France for safety in England

* Also includes a special resources section, with the detailed listing of the Rougon-Macquart family tree, as well as an index of the main characters and locations in the twenty-novel series


* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres

 

CONTENTS:

 

The Early Novels

CLAUDE’S CONFESSION

THE DEAD WOMAN’S WISH

THE MYSTERY OF MARSEILLE

THERESE RAQUIN

MADELEINE FERAT

 

The Rougon-Macquart Cycle

THE FORTUNE OF THE ROUGONS

THE KILL

THE FAT AND THE THIN

THE CONQUEST OF PLASSANS

ABBE MOURET’S TRANSGRESSION

HIS EXCELLENCY EUGENE ROUGON

THE DRAM SHOP

A LOVE EPISODE

NANA

PIPING HOT

THE LADIES’ PARADISE

THE JOY OF LIFE

GERMINAL

HIS MASTERPIECE

THE EARTH

THE DREAM

THE HUMAN BEAST

MONEY

THE DOWNFALL

DOCTOR PASCAL

 

The Three Cities

LOURDES

ROME

PARIS

 

The Four Gospels

FRUITFULNESS

LABOUR

TRUTH

 

The Short Stories

STORIES FOR NINON

NEW STORIES FOR NINON

PARISIAN SKETCHES

THE ATTACK ON THE MILL

THE FLOOD

CAPTAIN BURLE

THE MILLER’S DAUGHTER

THE DEATH OF OLIVIER BECAILLE

NAÏS MICOULIN

 

J’Accuse !

I ACCUSE…!

 

The Criticism

ÉMILE ZOLA by Henry James

THE ZOLA CONTROVERSY by G. K. Chesterton

M. ZOLA by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

An Extract from ‘MY LITERARY PASSIONS’ by William Dean Howells

ÉMILE ZOLA by William Dean Howells

ZOLA by Henryk Sienkiewicz

BORLASE AND SON by James Joyce

 

The Biography

WITH ZOLA IN ENGLAND by Ernest Alfred Vizetelly

 

Resources

THE ROUGON-MACQUART FAMILY TREE

INDEX OF CHARACTERS IN THE ROUGON-MACQUART SERIES

INDEX OF LOCATIONS IN THE ROUGON-MACQUART SERIES
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