Books

The Beast Within

Émile Zola

'The train ran on without a driver, on and on, like some mindless, unseeing beast...'

One of Zola's darkest and most violent works - a tense thriller of political corruption and a graphic exploration of the criminal mind, as a murder is committed on the new railways of the Second Empire.

A new series of twenty distinctive, unforgettable Penguin Classics in a beautiful new design and pocket-sized format, with coloured jackets echoing Penguin's original covers.

Thérèse Raquin

Émile Zola (and others)

A BRAND NEW TRANSLATION BY ADAM THORPE

‘Adam Thorpe's version deserves to become the standard English text’ Daily Telegraph

‘[Adam Thorpe] brings an unusual freshness and zip to the task, which goes some way towards returning us to that sense of unnerving immediacy which the young Zola's novel would have given its readers in 1867’ Times Literary Supplement

Mysterious disappearances, domestic cases, noiseless, bloodless snuffings-out… the law can look as deep as it likes, but when the crime itself goes unsuspected… oh yes, there's many a murderer basking in the sun...

When Thérèse Raquin is forced to marry the sickly Camille, she sees a bare life stretching out before her, leading every evening to the same cold bed and every morning to the same empty day. Escape comes in the form of her husband’s friend, Laurent, and Thérèse throws herself headlong into an affair. There seems only one obstacle to their happiness; Camille. They plot to be rid of him. But in destroying Camille they kill the very desire that connects them…

First published in 1867, Thérèse Raquin has lost none of its power to enthral. Adam Thorpe’s unflinching translation brings Zola’s dark and shocking masterwork to life.

The Beast Within

Émile Zola

His haunting, impressionistic study of a man's slow corruption by jealousy, Emile Zola's The Beast Within (La Bete Humaine) is translated from the French with an introduction and notes by Roger Whitehouse in Penguin Classics.

Roubaud is consumed by a jealous rage when he discovers a sordid secret about his young wife's past. The only way he can rest is by forcing her to help him murder the man involved, but there is a witness - Jacques Lantier, a fellow railway employee. Jacques, meanwhile, must contend with his own terrible impulses, for every time he sees a woman he feels the overwhelming desire to kill. In the company of Roubaud's wife, Severine, he finds peace briefly, yet his feelings for her soon bring disasterous consequences. A key work in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, The Beast Within is one of Zola's most dark and violent works - a tense thriller of political corruption and a graphic exploration of the criminal mind.

Roger Whitehouse's vivid translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Zola's depiction of the railways, politics and the legal system and the influence of the studies of criminology and the Jack the Ripper murders on his novel. This edition also includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading and notes.

Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).

If you enjoyed The Beast Within, you might like Zola's The Drinking Den, also available in Penguin Classics.

The Debacle

Émile Zola (and others)

Conservative and working-class, Jean Macquart is an experienced, middle-aged soldier in the French army, who has endured deep personal loss. When he first meets the wealthy and mercurial Maurice Levasseur, who never seems to have suffered, his hatred is immediate. But after they are thrown together during the disastrous Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the pair are compelled to understand one other. Forging a profound friendship, they must struggle together to endure a disorganised and brutal war, the savage destruction of France's Second Empire and the fall of Napoleon III. One of the greatest of all war novels, The Debacle is the nineteenth novel in Zola's great Rougon-Macquart cycle. A forceful and deeply moving tale of close friendship, it is also a fascinating chronicle of the events that were to lead, in the words of Zola himself, to 'the murder of a nation'.

Thérèse Raquin

Émile Zola (and others)

Perhaps his most famous work, Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin is a dark and gripping story of lust, violence and guilt, set in the gloomy back streets of Paris. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Robin Buss.

In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Thérèse Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille. The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband's earthy friend Laurent, but their animal passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Thérèse Raquin caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and borught its twenty-seven-year-old author a notoriety that followed him throughout his life. Zola's novel is not only an uninhibited portrayal of adultery, madness and ghostly revenge, but also a devastating exploration of the darkest aspects of human existence.

Robin Buss's translation superbly conveys Zola's fearlessly honest and matter-of-fact style. In his introduction, he discusses Zola's life and literary career, and the influence of art, literature and science on his writing. This edition also includes the preface to the second edition of 1868, a chronology, further reading and notes.

Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).

If you enjoyed Thérèse Raquin, you might like Zola's Germinal, also available in Penguin Classics.

The Drinking Den

Émile Zola

Set in the taverns of Paris, this is perhaps the first classical tragedy of working-class people living in the slums of a city. The Drinking Den (1877) is part of the Rougon-Macquart series, a naturalistic history of two branches of a family traced through several generations. Zola's work was influenced by contemporary theories of heredity and experimental science, and the behaviour of the two families is shown to be conditioned by environment and inherited characteristics, chiefly drunkenness and mental instability.

Germinal

Émile Zola (and others)

Considered by André Gide to be one of the ten greatest novels in the French language, Germinal is a brutal depiction of the poverty and wretchedness of a mining community in northern France under the second empire. At the centre of the novel is Etienne Lantier, a handsome 21 year-old mechanic, intelligent but with little education and a dangerous predisposition to murderous, alcoholic rage. Germinal tells the parallel story of Etienne's refusal to accept what he appears destined to become, and of the miners' difficult decision to strike in order to fight for a better standard of life.

Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Delight)

Émile Zola

Now the basis for the major BBC tv adaptation The Paradise, this is a lavish drama and a timeless commentary on consumer capitalism. The Penguin Classics edition of Émile Zola's The Ladies' Delight is based on an acclaimed, vivid and modern translation by Robin Buss, who has also introduced the novel.

The Ladies' Delight is the glittering Paris department store run by Octave Mouret. He has used charm and drive to become director of this mighty emporium, unscrupulously exploiting his young female staff and seducing his lady customers with luxurious displays of shimmering silks, satins, velvets and lace. Then Denise Baudu, a naïve provincial girl, becomes an assistant at the store - and Mouret discovers that he in turn can also be enchanted. With its greedy customers, gossiping staff and vibrant sense of theatre, The Ladies' Delight (Au Bonheur des Dames in the original French) is one of the most richly exciting novels in Zola's Les Rougon-Macquart cycle.

This edition also contains a bibliography, introduction, chronology and explanatory notes.

Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).

'A complete page-turner about the consumer society, greed, fashion and instant gratification'
India Knight

'A fine translation'
The Times Literary Supplement

The Earth

Émile Zola (and others)

Part of the vast Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels, The Earth was regarded by Émile Zola's as his greatest novel. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with an introduction by Douglas Parmée.

When Jean Macquart arrives in the peasant community of Beauce, where farmers have worked the same land for generations, he quickly finds himself involved in the corrupt affairs of the local Fouan family. Aging and Lear-like, Old Man Fouan has decided to divide his land between his three children: his penny-pinching daughter Fanny, his eldest son - a far from holy figure known as 'Jesus Christ' - and the lecherous Buteau, Macquart's friend. But in a community where land is everything, sibling rivalry quickly turns to brutal hatred, as Buteau declares himself unsatisfied with his lot. A fascinating portrayal of a struggling but decadent community, The Earth offers a compelling exploration of the destructive nature of human ignorance and greed.

Douglas Parmée's translation vividly conveys the naturalistic tone of the original in clear, contemporary English. This edition also includes an introduction, exploring Zola's motivation in writing The Earth and considering its influence on his contemporaries.

Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).

If you enjoyed The Earth, you might like Zola's Germinal, also available in Penguin Classics.

Biography

Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years.