May 05 , 2010

The Kill


Here is a true publishing event–the first modern translation of a lost masterpiece by one of fiction’s giants. Censored upon publication in 1871, out of print since the 1950s, and untranslated for a century, Zola’s The Kill (La Curée) emerges as an unheralded classic of naturalism. Second in the author’s twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart saga, it is a riveting story of family transgression, heedless desire, and societal greed.
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DENISE était venue à pied de la gare Saint-Lazare, où un train de Cherbourg l’avait débarquée avec ses deux frères, après une nuit passée sur la dure banquette d’un wagon de troisième classe. Elle tenait par la main Pépé, et Jean la suivait, tous les trois brisés…

The incestuous affair of Renée Saccard and her stepson, Maxime, is set against the frenzied speculation of Renée’s financier husband, Aristide, in a Paris becoming a modern metropolis and “the capital of the nineteenth century.” In the end, setting and story merge in actions that leave a woman’s spirit and a city’s soul ravaged beyond repair. As vividly rendered by Arthur Goldhammer, one of the world’s premier translators from the French, The Kill contains all the qualities of the school of fiction marked, as Henry James wrote, by “infernal intelligence.”

In this new incarnation, The Kill joins Nana and Germinal on the shelf of Zola classics, works by an immortal author who–explicit, pitiless, wise, and unrelenting–always goes in for the kill.

From the Hardcover edition.
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