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His Excellency: Son Exc. Eugene Rougon (1897)

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A book by Emile Zola

Originally published in 1897. This volume from the Cornell University Library's print collections was scanned on an APT BookScan and converted to JPG 2000 format by Kirtas Technologies. All titles scanned cover to cover and pages may include marks notations … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Emile Zola
Publisher: Cornell University Library
1 review about His Excellency: Son Exc. Eugene Rougon (1897)

A Tough Haul

  • Jun 10, 2010
Eugene Rougon, the central character of this novel, is the eldest son of the scoundrel Pierre Rougon, the provincial founder of the 'legitimate' lineage of Rougons, most of them scoundrels, who appear either as main or as secondary characters in all twenty of the Rougon-Macquart novels. He was a scheming lawyer in Paris when we met him in the first novel of the series, "The Fortune of the Rougons". Now in "His Excellency" he is an important minister in the "Empire" of Louis Napoleon. He has an adversary worthy of his own rascality, however -- the beautiful and cold-hearted Clothilde -- and it's their struggle for dominance that shapes the story. Though "His Excellence" was written later than some other novels, in the chronology of the series it stands roughly second, and Zola declared at the end of his career that it should be read second.

This book was a "hard row to hoe" for me in French (I've set myself the goal of reading the whole Rougon Macquart series over a couple of years) because of the vast armature of legal and parliamentary terms needed to comprehend Zola's acrid disdain for the policies and postures of the Second Empire. Zola's scorn for the greed and self-indulgence of Louis Napoleon's minions is almost as fiery as mine for their counterparts in the corporate plutocracy of the USA today, with its Tea party dupes at the phony barricades, but it encumbers the human elements in the novel rather laboriously. In short, I enjoyed this reading much less than I have enjoyed any of the other Zolas I've read, either in French or in English. Certainly, if you are a newcomer to the works of Emile Zola, this would be a poor choice for a starting point. I've already posted reviews on several other books in the series under their English titles -- "The Fortune of the Rougons", "The Kill", "The Debacle" and "The Masterpiece" -- any of which would be far more engaging and readable than "Son Excellence Eugene Rougon".

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