Emilie Zola (Wyatt Wegrzyn)


Émile-Édouard-Charles-Antoine Zola was born on April 2nd, 1840 in Paris, France. Zola was raised primarily by his mother as his father past away when he was only seven years old. Yet he was able to receive a rather elevated education as child, which was ended rather abruptly after he had failed the French university admittance exam twice. Zola then set out to begin working to support himself. In 1862 Zola becomes a clerk at French publishing firm. As he did not earn much, Zola began writing articles on current events which would be published. He also rediscovered his past passion of fictional writing. By publishing and selling his work, Zola soon became a self supporting writer, being able to care for his mother as well.

He continued living with is mother until 1870 when he married Gabrielle-Alexandrine Meley. They remained married throughout Zola's life despite a long term affair between Zola and one of their house maids.

Throughout the rest of his life, Zola published numerous influential and highly contested works. Many of these writings drew the attention and admiration of people all over Europe, but many critics as well. Emilie Zola died unexpectedly September 28, 1902 in his home in Paris. His cause of death was determined to be carbon monoxide poisoning due to a fire lit in a blocked chimney of his home. Many people believe this event was a tragic accident, but there is a reasonable conspiracy theory suspecting murder. Zola created countless enemies because of his controversial works. He was even persecuted in French court, and Emilie Zola was forced to flee to England. His death was not too long after his return to Paris. Coincidental? One can make his or her own inferences.

important Ideas

Zola was the founder of the naturalist movement, an intellectual movement involving artists, writers, and philosophers. In art, naturalism is similar to realism, as both movements share the idea of depicting life the way it truly is. For writers and philosophers, naturalism focused on rationality and the fact that everything arises from natural causes. Zola also personally believed in the power of heredity, and he based many of his fictional novels on factual accounts of genetic traits. Along with heredity, Zola was a strong believer in the experimental method and a number of other Enlightenment ideas. Zola's movement had many followers who were inspired to go on and become prestigious writers themselves.

Emilie Zola was also known for his support of Jewish rights. He was against Anti-Semitism, which at the time was a general practice in France and throughout most of Europe. People did not openly persecute Jews in France, but often in court Christians had the upper hand. Zola fought for Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French military officer who was wrongfully convicted of treason. This case had a profound affect on French society, and Zola was one of the few activists fighting for Dreyfus. Emilie Zola was eventually convicted of libel and sentenced to a year in prison. This was the point in his life where he fled to England.

Spread of Zola's ideas

Emilie Zola published more novels, articles, and critiquing pieces than most writers at the time. In this way he was able to spread his ideas through France and Europe as a whole. Zola's fictional novels were widely loved and read by many. Also many of his naturalist ideas appealed to other philosophers across Europe. During his life, Zola was widely respected up until his publishing regarding the issues of Alfred Dreyfus. At this point he began to lose his highly acclaimed reputation. But for most of his life, Emilie Zola's ideas were highly accepted, and he was able to inspire others to follow his intellectual dedication.

Significance of Zola's Ideas

Zola's fundamental ideas are still important to this day. Racism is still a prominent problem in many places of the world today. Zola was a forerunner for specifically Jewish rights in France, and his ideas pushed for a society without racial inequality. Emilie Zola's ideas regarding naturalism are still present even now. He based his movement off of rationalism and the experimental method, two ideas that are still highly regarded in today's society. Zola was also able to inspire future generations of writers and thinkers who could themselves contribute to modern society.


Berg, William J. "Emilie Zola." Britannica School. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

James R. Farr. "Emile Zola." World Eras. Industrial Revolution in Europe, 1750-1914, Gale, 2003, pp. 86-87. World History in Context. Accessed 30 Jan. 2017.

A history of Western Society Textbook


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