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La Conquête De Plassans (1999)

La Conquête de Plassans (1999)

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3.85 of 5 Votes: 3
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225300894X (ISBN13: 9782253008941)

About book La Conquête De Plassans (1999)

I read the English translation by Brian Rhys, published (as 'A Priest in the House') by Elek in 1957, long out of print but easy to track down on e-bay and the like. At the time of writing this is the only English translation available aside from the public domain Vizetelly, which I wanted to avoid because of previous unpleasant reading experiences with the Vizetelly translations. Oxford classics are due to release a new English translation later this year, but I wanted to continue the Rougon Macquart cycle in Zola's suggested reading order (this is book number 6), and I couldn't be bothered waiting. This was probably a mistake - Brian Rhys' translation seemed a bit clumsy and stilted to me, and I don't imagine it would be hard to improve on it. Like the first novel in the cycle, 'The Fortune of the Rougons', this book is set in the small town of Plassans, and features many of the same characters, 10 or so years hence. Most of the Rougon-Macquart novels I've read so far could be happily read in isolation, but with this one a bit of prior knowledge of some of the characters would probably be useful, so I'd recommend reading 'The Fortune....' first. Even with some familiarity with the worthies of Plassans I must admit I found it a struggle to keep up with all the characters at times - there are just so many names attached to so many official positions, and even by the end I still wasn't quite sure who was the judge, who was the mayor, and who was the Inspector of Woods and Waters. Much of the novel was taken up with small town politics, and whether it was this uninspiring subject matter or just a dull translation, I wasn't gripped by this book in the way I had been with the others in the cycle.Where the book really comes alive is in the depiction of Marthe's religious awakening, and the eventual transformation of her spirituality from quiet devotion to a frenzy of morbid eroticism. Zola may be no fan of religion, but, as in 'La Reve', his descriptions of the trappings and rituals of Catholicism are lush and seductive. The purity of Marthe's passion makes for an extreme contrast with the cynicism of the gossips and political intriguers surrounding her, another similarity with 'The Fortune of the Rougons', but both Marthe and the object of her religious and secular lust, the titular priest in the house Abbe Faujas, remain strangely distant to the reader, so the central relationship of the book never has the impact of that of Silvere and Miette in 'The Fortune....'Which isn't to say it's not a good book - it has Zola's usual parade of grotesque characters and intensely uncomfortable set-pieces, and a great ending, but overall I felt it lacked the narrative focus of the previous books. It will be interesting to see how much is tightened up in the forthcoming translation.3.5 stars

What a contrast between The Conquest of Plassans is with The Dream! The Conquest of Plassans (La Conquête de Plassans) was first published in 1874, the fourth novel completed in Zola’s great Rougon-Macquart cycle. But if you are reading in the recommended reading order as I am, it is No 5, and comes after The Dream (Le Rêve) which was not written until 1888 and was a complete departure in Zola’s style. (See my review). With The Conquest of Plassans, we are back in the seedy world of political intrigue, greed, opportunism and gullibility.19th century French politics are as mystifying as ever in The Conquest of Plassans but all you really need to know is that the town of Plassans has returned the ‘wrong’ candidate. As we know in Australia, marginal seats swing to-and-fro, but there is Serious Dismay if a party loses a seat that is ‘theirs’ by long-standing tradition. You can bet that the Liberal Party has a major campaign already underway to retrieve the seat that Sophie Mirabella lost at the 2013 election, and you can bet that the Labor Party hasn’t given up on the seat that the Greens snaffled in inner city Melbourne either. Well, in Plassans the party of the Empire under Napoleon III wants its seat back, and they have a suitably Machiavellian plan to achieve that.To read the rest of my review please visit

Do You like book La Conquête De Plassans (1999)?

A compelling tale about the insidious destruction of a family—and, concurrently, their naïve or, arguably, willfully blind town—as a result of the shrewd agenda perpetrated by the mysterious newcomers to town, of questionable motives and scruples. This is undoubtedly another profound, astoundingly well-written work by Zola.
—Màili C. J.

Nous voici de retour à Plassans! Fini le tumulte parisien, au profit des manipulations politique dans ce cher Plassans, que nous avions découvert dans le premier volume de la série.Pas de temps mort dans ce volume, où l'on retrouve le père Rougon et sa femme, que l'on avait quitter en pleine gloire, et qui ont maintenant troqué leur salon jaune défraîchi contre un salon vert luxueux.Et surtout, on y suit l'histoire de leur fille, Marthe, qui a pour locataire l'abbé Faujas, un personnage central de ce roman, et qui incarne tout ce que Zola ne supporte pas chez les prêtres de son époque.

6th in the list of 20. I've gotten through 8.It's possible that I'm getting used to his style. These books go from intense detail of daily life during the 2nd empire (Napoleon III) to spectacular human rupture. They are getting better, and this is the best so far.The story of Eugene (Paris)Rougon's agent in the form of a Priest that moves into Martha Rougon and Francois Mouret into home. These two have succeeded to retire in Plassans. Plassans has just voted for the opposition.Well worth the effort.
—Call Me Ishmael

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