Emile Zola : letters found

Emile Zola was a corresponding long-winded… until December 2010, there were no less than ten volumes published by Presses de l’université de Montréal/CNRS Editions involving thousands of letters sent in by Zola with his numerous correspondents since 1978. It is necessary to acknowledge the work that has irreplaceable to this edition patient and careful long-term carried out under the direction of B. H. Bakker by a group of French researchers and canadians.1

The eleventh volume has just been published (December 2010) and gives access to the “letters found” that the catalogues of public sales and dealers of autographs have proven to be. This new volume contains 278 unpublished letters and 33 partially unpublished, and more than 150 letters published in The Cahiers naturalistes. A total of 502 letters that appear in the new delivery.

It is necessary to imagine the joy that the diligent reader and the researcher can experience the discovery of this publication. Especially when the match represents the material of first importance for his thesis work (!). In the case of Zola, who did not keep diaries, and whose personal papers are few in number, it is in the correspondence that one should look for a material investigation. Like what has shown José-Luis Diaz for Balzac2, we think that Zola is objective as a writer in the correspondence. It formalizes, present and tests his literary projects, and made it (performativity) writer. Hence my eagerness to discover these 502 letters : would they finally answer the questions that I can ask Zola ? Confirm assumptions ? Reverse tracks ?

It seems to me after a first reading, these letters found do not reserve of big surprise : it contains the Zola “press attaché” of his books, quick to defend his works and send them to report to each other, Zola’s ” business man “3 time defending the rights of translation of his works, not hesitating to make accounts of what we owe him, the father (letters to his son and his daughter), the dreyfusard…



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