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The Kill (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – September 15, 2008
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Was there ever a novel before "The Kill" in which every character is completely odious? Even in Zola's previous novel - The Fortune of the Rougons - there were a couple of sympathetic innocents, but the three principal actors of "The Kill" are loathsome from start to finish. Aristide Saccard is the son of the Pierre Rougon who pounced on Napoleon III's coup d'etat to 'lift' the Rougons from poverty in that first novel. Maxime is Aristide's effete son by his first wife in the village of Plassans, whom we met in "The Fortune" but whose death in "The Kill" affords Aristide his first opportunity to swindle his way to wealth in Paris. Renée is Aristide's second, much younger wife, whose dowry provides that opportunity. The novel "The Kill" is a tightly choreographed ballet, a 'pas de trois' of deception and seduction danced by these three despicable people, each one aiming to extract as much 'blood' from the other two as possible.Read more ›
Zola was a fervid hater of the regime and time of Napoleon III. We are looking at the so-called second empire in France, which lasted for 2 decades, from 1851 to 1870. Ironically, the demise was helped by Prussia's Bismarck, who started the 2nd Empire in Germany on the basis of the victory over Napoleon.
Zola wrote the book at the end of the 2 decades, and it was published during the early time of the next epoch, a republic. Zola was not generally greeted with enthusiasm. Some considered his book vulgar and obscene. By modern standards, that sounds a bit overstated.
The story starts around 1860, so it is not chronologically the next in the big epos, just the second one written and published.
The story of this novel focuses on Aristide, the youngest son of Pierre Rougon, chief villain of volume 1 and family `patriarch', if a word with such positive connotations is appropriate for this kind of selfish rogue. Another son has made it as a politician and has entered the cabinet as a minister. Aristide has struck it rich as a speculator. He has a young second wife and an adult son from his first marriage.
We start with a look at the life of the rich in Paris. We join a coach ride, and then a dinner party at Aristide's mansion. Zola spends a lot of effort on describing the park, the streets, the traffic, the architecture of the house, the interior decoration. High point may be the green house: Zola gives us a detailed listing and description of the plants in there.Read more ›
It's a novel about a city being reinvented. Everywhere houses are being torn down to make way for new thoroughfares and elaborate building projects while the government reimburses the owners for their losses--a system ripe with abuses as speculators purchase property they know will be claimed and make inflated demands for compensation.
Financial gain and sexual gratification are the only motives. But, in The Kill, rapid growth and radical change come at a cost--not only financial, but moral. And the outcome is devastating.
This is my fourth book in Zola's Rougon-Macquart twenty-volume series. It is not my favorite --that being "The Belly of Paris"-- but it is of major significance. It is historical fiction but mirrors the realities of Napoleon III's regime leading up to the fall of Paris in 1871. It contains all of the sexual deviance, greed, gluttony and immorality associated with Paris during this period. It also provides much insight into the massive remodeling of Paris during the 1860s by Baron Haussmann at the astonishing cost of 2,500,000,000 francs.
Again, I don't think that this s Zola's best work, but it is well worth the time and effort if you have an interest in the history of Paris during this fascinating period.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book a great deal. This is the second part of the infamous Rougon-Macquart cycle of twenty volumes by Emile Zola, and follows on from ‘The Fortune of the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Julian Froment
The Kill is the second novel in Émile Zola's Rougon-Macquart series, but it stands perfectly well on its own. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Steven Davis
The rarest of books. Zola assembles a cast of characters who are all as unsympathetic and unlikeable as one could imagine and writes a gripping story that keeps the reader... Read morePublished on December 16, 2013 by G. Brozeit
This is the 2nd in the series and it is entertaining as well as informative about France during this era. The characters are interesting and complex. Read morePublished on October 28, 2013 by Kentucky Cajun
This book,if forward and introduction are read, gives some rationale for Zola's views and mood in his writings
The issues of greed, power, and debauchery are universal themes,... Read more
In The Kill, Zola takes us to 19th century Paris. At the time, Napoleon III commissioned Baron Haussmann to reorganize, sanitize and embellish the capital city. Read morePublished on July 29, 2011 by ECJ
The first chapter of THE KILL is a tour de force. It opens in the Bois de Boulogne, a forest remade into a drawing room, and travels the new boulevards of the Second Empire to end... Read morePublished on September 26, 2009 by William Shriver