“Dr. Pascal had only one belief: the belief in life. Life was the only divine manifestation. Life was God, the grand motor, the soul of the universe…”
Doctor Pascal is Zola’s final novel in the twenty-volume Rougon-Macquart cycle.
Zola, genius that he was, created a fitting finale for his series: Doctor Pascal involves the conflict between religion and science; a May-September relationship; a fall from fortune; and duty versus love.
The Good Doctor practiced medicine for twelve years. He now lives off his investments and has devoted his life to research on heredity. He has a giant armoire filled with his findings, including files on each of his family members.
His mother, Madame Rougon, worries about her son. She had expected him to become a famous doctor. Instead, he accumulates possibly scandalous files about his family.
Zola wrote the Rougon-Macquart series as a history of France’s Second Empire of Napoleon III (1852 to 1870)—history is told through the stories of various family members.
The novels extend from the 1851 coup d’état, which overthrew the Republic to 1873 (the aftermath of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War).
Its publication sparked such notoriety that it quickly turned into a best seller, and it has long ruled as a classic of French literature.
EMILE ZOLA (1840 –1902) was a French writer, a major figure of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of the modern novel. Zola was nominated for both the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.