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Emile Zola

Emile Zola, (1840-1902). French novelist, who founded the naturalist movement in writing. He began work as a journalist and made his name in the literary world with Therese Raquin (1867). In 1871 he embarked on The Rougon Macquarts (1871-93), a series of 20 novels about the members of a single family. The novels cover all aspects of French society during the Second Empire, and include Nana (1880), the story of a prostitute, and Germinal (1885), set in a mining community. In 1898 Zola published an open letter in support of Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer falsely imprisoned for treason, and was obliged to flee to England for a time. His works were influenced by contemporary ideas of heredity and scientific fatalism.

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