RARA-AVIS: RE: Proto-noir and Zola

From: mburch5717 ( mburch5717@AOL.com)
Date: 29 Aug 2006

I think the couple of references to Zola as being one of the great precursors of the roman noir is right on target.

Many of his greatest novels deal with the doomed, brutalized and wasted lives of the underclass whose fates are decided by a malignant and implacable destiny (e.g. "L'Assomoir", "Therese Raquin", "Nana" and even "Germinal" being three examples that leap to mind). I'm sure David Goodis and Woolrich among others had to have been influenced by Zola.

"La Bete Humaine" seems to me to be the most noirish of Zola's novels given that it deals with murder, illicit romance, misconceived passions and fate trapping victims for whom there will be no remorse. It even has a noir-like title. In many ways it's like a grand opera version of James M. Cain's "Postman" or "Double Indemnity".

If nothing else the best of Zola's novels are just plain, cracking good reads -- as are many noirs.

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