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La Joie de vivre von Emile Zola
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La Joie de vivre (Original 1884; 1985. Auflage)

von Emile Zola (Autor)

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"Neither spoke another word, they were gripped by a shared, unthinking madness as they plunged headlong together into vertiginous rapture."Orphaned with a substantial inheritance at the age of ten, Pauline Quenu is taken from Paris to live with her relatives, Monsieur and Madame Chanteau and their son Lazare, in the village of Bonneville on the wild Normandy coast. Her presence enlivens the household and Pauline is the only one who canease Chanteau's gout-ridden agony. Her love of life contrasts with the insularity and pessimism that infects the family, especially Lazare, for whom she develops a devoted passion. Gradually Madame Chanteau starts to take advantage of Pauline's generous nature, and jealousy and resentment threatento blight all their lives. The arrival of a pretty family friend, Louise, brings tensions to a head.The twelfth novel in the Rougon Macquart series, The Bright Side of Life is remarkable for its depiction of intense emotions and physical and mental suffering. The precarious location of Bonneville and the changing moods of the sea mirror the turbulent relations of the characters, and as the storyunfolds its title comes to seem ever more ironic.… (mehr)
Mitglied:Marius1979
Titel:La Joie de vivre
Autoren:Emile Zola (Autor)
Info:Gallimard (1985), 442 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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Die Freude am Leben von Émile Zola (Author) (1884)

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The main character is Pauline Quenu (b. 1852), the daughter of Parisian charcutiers Lisa Macquart and M. Quenu, who are central characters in Le ventre de Paris (published 1873). Pauline plays a small part in that novel.

The novel opens in 1863 and covers about 10 years. Ten-year-old Pauline's parents have died, and she comes to live with the Chanteaus, relatives on her father's side, in the seaside village of Bonneville, some 10 kilometers from Arromanches-les-Bains in Normandy. Zola contrasts Pauline's optimism and open-heartedness with the illness, resentment, and depression prevalent in the Chanteau household. In particular, the 19-year-old son Lazare, a student of the writings of Schopenhauer, is convinced of life's futility and infused with pessimism and nihilism, which he attempts to express in an unfinished Symphony of Sorrow.

Over the course of several years, a series of financial setbacks causes Mme. Chanteau to "borrow" from Pauline's inheritance. Lazare's investment in a factory to extract minerals from seaweed and his project to build a series of jetties and breakwaters to protect Bonneville from the pounding waves — and the subsequent failure of both these enterprises — reduce Pauline's fortune even further. Through it all, Pauline retains her optimistic outlook and love for Lazare and his parents. Eventually, that love extends to the entire town as Pauline provides money, food, and support to Bonneville's poor, despite their evident greed and degeneracy.

Gradually, Mme. Chanteau grows to resent Pauline, blaming her for the family's bad luck and accusing her of being miserly, ungrateful, and selfish. Even on her deathbed, Mme. Chanteau is unable to get past her resentment, and accuses Pauline of poisoning her when she attempts to nurse her. Though Lazare and Pauline are tacitly engaged, Pauline releases him so that he may marry Louise Thibaudier, a rich banker's daughter who spends her vacations with the Chanteaus. Their marriage is an unhappy one, as his obsessive-compulsive behaviors escalate and he infects her with his fear of death. His inability to maintain gainful employment and his palpable apathy add to their unhappiness.

Louise gives birth to a stillborn baby boy, but Pauline saves his life by breathing air into his lungs. The novel ends 18 months later. The baby, Paul, is healthy and growing, though Louise and Lazare maintain a tense relationship. Bonneville is all but destroyed by the waves. The suicide of the family servant brings the novel to a close, with M. Chanteau, wracked with gout and in constant agony, railing against suicide and praising the joys inherent in the ongoing fight for life in the face of sorrow and unhappiness.

La joie de vivre is one of the least typical of the Rougon-Macquart novels. It is not set in or near Paris, nor is it set in Zola's fictional Plassans, the town where the family originates. Pauline's somewhat tenuous and unexplored connection to her Rougon and Macquart relatives is the only link to the rest of the series.

Zola's plan for these novels was to show how heredity and environment worked on members of one family over the course of the Second French Empire. All of the descendants of Adelaïde Fouque (Tante Dide), Pauline's great-grandmother, demonstrate what today would be called obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Pauline demonstrates these characteristics to a lesser degree than anyone in the family who is a focus of his or her own book.

Indeed, the Chanteau family, especially the son Lazare, more clearly demonstrate these behaviors. The Chanteaus are not, however, in the direct Rougon-Macquart line.

Another characteristic of the family is a streak of jealousy and possessiveness. Pauline, while demonstrating these traits, consciously fights against them. The result of this struggle is her positive outlook, altruism, and sense of joie de vivre.

Mentioned in the course of the novel are Pauline's cousins Aristide Saccard (La curée and L'argent), Octave Mouret (Pot-bouille and Au bonheur des dames) and Claude Lantier (L'œuvre), and M. Rambaud (Une page d'amour), the husband of her cousin Hélène Mouret.

In Le docteur Pascal (set in 1872–1873), Zola tells us that Pauline still lives in Bonneville. Lazare, now a widower, has gone to America, leaving Paul in her care. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Feb 22, 2021 |
So, after the sex-and-shopping of Au bonheur des dames, Zola comes up with an indisputable beach novel. No-one can say he wasn't ready for the airport-bookstall era...

The basic scenario of this novel is very simple: little Pauline comes to live with her aunt and uncle in a remote village on the Normandy coast after the death of her parents. One horror after another strikes the family, in the gratuitous kind of way only Hardy and Zola can get away with, and Pauline herself has to cope with some pretty nasty stuff in her life, but (without resort to religion) she somehow manages to retain almost Ann-of-Green-Gables levels of optimism whilst all around her are dying in excruciating pain, losing their homes to floods, failing in business, etc. And by some miracle, Zola manages to make her a likeable and sympathetic central character despite this.

Having discovered the value of obstetrics as a way of building a climactic scene in Pot-bouille, Zola goes one better here, with what Yves Berger claims in the preface of my edition must be the longest and most gruesomely-detailed childbirth scene in French literature. If it isn't, by any chance, I'm pretty sure I don't want to read the book that outdoes it. But again, it's not gratuitous, it's there to remind us of the absolute horror that the most normal event in life can turn into, the pain women are expected to go through, and the rather inadequate resources of the medical profession of the time for dealing with it ("...I can save either your wife or your baby...").

He also scores what must surely be another first here by bringing in menstruation as a major symbolic element. Being Zola, it is not delicately and indirectly alluded to: we get all the gory details we would like. And of course there is a social point to make here as well as a symbolic one: Zola shows us the imbecility of Mme Chanteau's reluctance to explain to her ward what's happening to her body when she bleeds for the first time. Fortunately, Pauline happens to be in a position to deal with the question by reading it up in her cousin's medical books, and copes in a very enlightened modern way. She continues to alarm other characters throughout the book with how clued-up she is about sex and unembarrassed talking about it: obviously Zola wants us to see how much better life would be for young women if they all acted like that.

Other than the ob/gyn element of the book, we get some hardline rural poverty (including domestic abuse, alcohol abuse, and all the rest), seaweed chemistry, coastal defence (four years before Der Schimmelreiter), veterinary problems of dogs and cats, and the usual financial/inheritance/dowry shenanigans. And quite a bit of Schopenhauer — obviously Zola felt things were at risk of becoming too cheerful if he didn't deploy some heavy weapons...

A relatively minor work in the sequence, but still with some interesting ideas and subject-matter. ( )
  thorold | Nov 22, 2019 |
Translated into English in 2019 for only the second time since the heavily edited and expurgated 1901 version, The Bright Side of Life is a lesser known book in Zola's Rougon Macquart saga. This is regrettable, for in it Zola has created in Pauline Quenu a character as compelling as Claude Lantier or Jean Macquart.

First encountered as a young child in The Belly of Paris, she in now an orphaned ten year old. Her father had appointed his cousin Chanteau as her guardian. The Chanteau family lived on the coast of Normandy. They were happy to receive the young girl. Especially so was Mme Chanteau, enticed by the idea of Pauline's 150,000 franc inheritance. Pauline too was happy in her new life, so far from the world of Paris. She loved the seashore, the animals, and her newly met cousin Lazare. Although almost nine years older, Lazare was happy to spend time with Pauline, and the two developed a strong bond.

All went well until the onset of puberty. With no foreknowledge of the event, and no ensuing guidance from Mme Chanteau, Pauline was convinced she was dying. Here the story takes an unexpected turn for a nineteenth century girl. Lazare had by this time given up his earlier idea of becoming a great composer, and had turned instead to the study of medicine. Although he was in Paris studying, some of his books were still in the house. Pauline turned to them. As soon as her aunt's back was turned, she would take them out, then calmly put them back at the slightest sound, acting not like a girl with a guilty curiosity, but a studious one whose family were standing in the way of her vocation... And so this child of fourteen learnt... hers was a serious purpose, going from the organs that give life to those that regulate it, sustained and preserved from carnal ideas by the love of all that was healthy. The gradual discovery of this human machine filled her with admiration. She read all about it with a passion... she revived her earlier dream of learning everything in order to cure everything.
Zola had reversed the expected roles of his time. Pauline becomes a strong, steady presence, growing into a capable and loved manager of the household, with a solid grounding in reality. Lazare, by contrast, moved from one interest to another, unable to summon the discipline to persevere, squandering his life and the lives of those closest to him. Zola's ideas on empiricism versus romanticism are captured in this little family.

In his introduction, Andrew Rothwell says that after completing [Nana] (1880), Zola wanted to write about something more domestic, saying in his preliminary notes "This is the novel I want to write. Good, honest people placed in a drama that will develop the ideas of goodness and pain." However, a mental health crisis saw him turn instead to writing Pot Luck (1882) and The Ladies' Paradise (1883). He was then able to turn once again to The Bright Side of Life.

Some critics have found Pauline too bland and saintly. Rothwell feels this may be due to the 1901 Vizetelly translation*, which deleted so much of the content that served to demonstrate the strength of Pauline's character. In contrast, Rothwell says that in France the novel is regarded as "one of the finest love stories of the nineteenth century".

The Bright Side of Life is an oddity in the Rougon Macquart cycle. Like The Dream, the plot bears little relation to other characters in the saga. Pauline comes from the illegitimate side of the family, but apart from sporadic fits of jealousy, little of the Macquart tainted character emerges. Yet Pauline is Nana's first cousin. Both girls were born in 1852 and knew each other as small children. Zola decided Pauline would be "... the radical opposite of Nana, ... where Nana was unleashed on the world with no moral compass, no social or religious inhibitions, ... she will... have values, but above all, she will produce virtue, as Nana produced vice."

Perhaps Zola was feeling more hopeful about life. Yet despite all intentions to create a positive force in Pauline, there is still an overwhelming pessimism here. Still writing in top form, Zola has written a childbirth scene here just as rivetiing as his death scene in [Nana]. Although the Chanteau family starts out with the best of intentions, little by little these melt away, and her guardians ultimately fail Pauline. The village loses its battle with the sea. The final scene, which seems to come out of the blue, offers little hope for the future. Paulne may have a joie de vivre, but this is classic Zola.

________________
*Caution when choosing an edition to read. Vizetelly is still the only other readily available translation in English, even including a 2016 Kindle edition.
1 abstimmen SassyLassy | Aug 23, 2019 |
The Joy of Life by Emile Zola

This is one of the less well-known of the Rougon-Macquart novels. While not among the top tier of the series, it is one that deserves to be more widely read.

The Rougon-Macquart connection is Pauline Quenu, the protagonist. She is the daughter of the owners of the butcher shop featured in The Belly of Paris. As the novel opens she is 9 years old and has been orphaned. She, along with her ample inheritance, is sent to live with distant relatives, an older couple, the Chanteaus, and their 19 year old son, Lazare. The Chanteaus are retired "gentry", and live in reduced circumstances in a fishing village on the North Coast of France.

Pauline forms an immediate bond with Lazare, and idolizes him. He is a dilettante, and is unable to decide what to do with his life. When Pauline first meets him, he is composing a "masterpiece" symphony. When he gets bored with this, he goes to Paris to study medicine. When he fails his exams, he studies science. He does not complete these studies, but returns home confident that he can start a successful business involving seaweed extractions. Lazare's various enterprises are expensive, and one after the other they fail. The Chanteaus begin using Pauline's inheritance to finance Lazare's continuing unsuccessful enterprises. Soon, they are also relying on Pauline's money to fund their everyday living expenses (above and beyond the expenses of her keep they have been legitimately paid). When Pauline comes of age, and they face an audit, they arrive at a convenient way to settle matters: Pauline and Lazare will become engaged. Pauline is amenable, since she has always adored Lazare, and he in his own way also loves her. As her fiancé, neither he nor his parents will have to repay Pauline, and it will furthermore be all to Pauline's advantage, since Lazare is so brilliant. It will be no surprise that none of Lazare's enterprises are successful, and that the Pauline and Lazare's relationship is not smooth. Pauline is at times a "too good to be true" character, but within the context of a 19th century novel she is believable and steadfast. She remains loyal to Madame Chanteau, even when Madame Chanteau has turned on her, perhaps out of shame from having depleted Pauline's fortune. She serves as an uncomplaining nurse to Monsieur Chanteau, who suffers from crippling gout. And despite all the trials and tribulations, she loves and remains true to Lazare.

All the characters in this book are well-drawn. One thing that I have not before noticed in Zola is the prominent role played by the family pets, Matthew the dog and Minouche the cat, whose characters are also well-developed. In fact, the death of Matthew is portrayed in a manner worthy of Dickens, and goes on for pages--certainly it is featured more prominently than the death of Madame Chanteau.

The other factor I particularly enjoyed in this novel is the setting on the northern coast. The fishing village itself is being slowing eaten by the encroaching sea. In winter, there are violent storms, yet Pauline and Lazare spend idyllic summer days on the beach. All of this is very atmospheric, and the feel of an ocean shore permeates the novel. ( )
2 abstimmen arubabookwoman | May 20, 2013 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Zola, ÉmileAutorHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Rothwell, AndrewÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Wilson, AngusEinführungCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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"Neither spoke another word, they were gripped by a shared, unthinking madness as they plunged headlong together into vertiginous rapture."Orphaned with a substantial inheritance at the age of ten, Pauline Quenu is taken from Paris to live with her relatives, Monsieur and Madame Chanteau and their son Lazare, in the village of Bonneville on the wild Normandy coast. Her presence enlivens the household and Pauline is the only one who canease Chanteau's gout-ridden agony. Her love of life contrasts with the insularity and pessimism that infects the family, especially Lazare, for whom she develops a devoted passion. Gradually Madame Chanteau starts to take advantage of Pauline's generous nature, and jealousy and resentment threatento blight all their lives. The arrival of a pretty family friend, Louise, brings tensions to a head.The twelfth novel in the Rougon Macquart series, The Bright Side of Life is remarkable for its depiction of intense emotions and physical and mental suffering. The precarious location of Bonneville and the changing moods of the sea mirror the turbulent relations of the characters, and as the storyunfolds its title comes to seem ever more ironic.

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