Emile Zola- Champion of NATURALISM (Just some general info)

September 30, 2007 at 10:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Emile Zola (Short synopsis in point form of his writing for those of you who visit this site and do not have the reading!)Zola loved and hated the 19th century French theatre. Mastered the intricate code of boulevard theatre: how characters must enter and exist, the technique of dramatic coups, the need for sympathetic roles, and the ‘various ways of cheating truth’ ” He was first an art critic and endorsed Impressionism (he championed the aesthetics of faithfully observed everyday life). Under the spell of the glamorous Parisian stage. Wrote novels- wanted to adapt his best-selling novels and accomplish the “great popular revolution” the theatre had long dreamed of. Aggressive proponent of naturalism in the theatre.

“Preface to Therese Raquin” (1873)

             Zola’s notion of minimalistic sets, props and costumes lends itself to the idea that this lack of visual distraction adds to the effect and quality of the performance transpiring on stage. He believed in naturalism: “submitting man and his works to an exact analysis, takign into account circumstances, environment and physical attributes,” (354). The development of which he called the “newborn babe of truth” (354) that would bring the “power of reality” (354). During the time of his writing, historical dramas were ending their reign as the most powerful genre of theatre. In its place, Zola believed that naturalism would take over, riding theatre of its ‘unreality’. Zola championed reality plays- claiming that it was imperative that the human problem be studied “within the bounds of reality” (355). He mentions the playwright Moliere and his “broad and simple portrayal of men and affairs,” (355). In his plays, the “action lies not in some story or other but in the inner conflicts of the characters,” (355).


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