on March 19, 1998
In Claude Lantier, Zola achieves the pinnacle of artistic creation. The tortured soul of Lantier is beautifully depicted in a novel which rivals, in its descriptions the artist's creation itself. The question of heredity is also challenged in Claude's ultimate fate. I loved it and for anyone who is at all interested in Art history of the nineteenth century this is a definite must.
on February 10, 2011
Zola's novel of art in mid-C19th France, it was first translated into English in 1886 as part of the "Rougon-Macquart" series which included "L'Assomoir" and "Germinal", is a study of Bohemian Paris.
"The Masterpiece", as it is entitled in English, is a fictionalised account of the Impressionist circle around Paul Cezanne. Zola, who had become an eminent art critic, turns his skills as a forensic commentator on France of the Second Empire and its emerging avant-garde art circles, creates a stunning story of the misunderstood artist whose desire to create the ultimate painting is thwarted by his own timidity and the intolerance of the art world which was unwilling to accept the revolutionaryu art forms of the young men who rebelled against the Salon.
Such was Zola's writing that Cezanne, upon reading the novel, broke off all friendship with the novelist who had supported his creativity in his critical writings.
This translation by Ernest Vizetelly brings all of the grittiness of Zola's writing to the reader. His brief preface includes ancilliary materialof interest both to the general reader and to those interested in the art world of the period.
It has been difficult to obtain a good English translation of the novel and this attempt can be lauded in all of its components.
on March 22, 2011
If you can stand these public domain rip-offs, you'll love this book. It was one of Zola's weakest book by far, but putting a fancy cover on it and using a victorian british translation doesn't help matters. See the new versions put out by The Emile Zola Society if you want to appreciate Zola for the great writer he is and you cannot read French.