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The Fortune of the Rougons
The Fortune of the Rougons
  • The first novel in Zola's famous Rougon-Macquart series, The Fortune of the Rougons is the series' founding text in which the prehistory of the family's two branches is recounted, establishing the hereditary basis for the family characteristics and flaws evident in the later novels.
  • Set during the time of Louis-Napoleon's coup d'état in 1851, the exciting events establish the symbolic links between a tainted family and the diseased society of the Second Empire.
  • The first new translation since the nineteenth century.
  • The wide-ranging introduction explains the background to the Rougon-Macquart series as well as the historical setting of the novel and its special qualities.
  • Brian Nelson is the established translator of four other Zola novels in Oxford World's Classics.
  • Includes chronology, bibliography, and explanatory notes.


'He thought he could see, in a flash, the future of the Rougon-Macquart family, a pack of wild satiated appetites in the midst of a blaze of gold and blood.'
Set in the fictitious Provençal town of Plassans, The Fortune of the Rougons tells the story of Silvère and Miette, two idealistic young supporters of the republican resistance to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état in December 1851. They join the woodcutters and peasants of the Var to seize control of Plassans, opposed by the Bonapartist loyalists led by Silvère's uncle, Pierre Rougon. Meanwhile, the foundations of the Rougon family and its illegitimate Macquart branch are being laid in the brutal beginnings of the Imperial regime.
The Fortune of the Rougons is the first in Zola's famous Rougon-Macquart series of novels. In it we learn how the two branches of the family came about, and the origins of the hereditary weaknesses passed down the generations. Murder, treachery, and greed are the keynotes, and just as the Empire was established through violence, the 'fortune' of the Rougons is paid for in blood. 


Translator's Note
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Emile Zola
Family Tree of the Rougon-Macquart
Explanatory Notes

About the author: 

Émile Zola
Brian Nelson, Emeritus Professor of French Studies and Translation, Monash University, Melbourne
Brian Nelson is the author or editor of twelve books on aspects of modern French and European culture, including The Cambridge Companion to Émile Zola (2007). For Oxford World's Classics he has translated Zola's The Ladies' ParadisePot LuckThe Kill, and The Belly of Paris.

NSW Premier's Prize for Translation
"Reading Brian Nelson's Introduction to The Fortune of the Rougons is a real treat." - Lisa Hill, ANZLitLovers

"The edition I read was the Oxford World's Classics translation by Brian Nelson and it's excellent ... as an introduction [to Zola] this has been such an inspiring read." - Desperate Reader

Product details

ISBN : 9780199560998

Emile Zola; Brian Nelson
336 Pages
131 x 196 mm
Pub date
Aug 2012
Oxford World's Classics
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The Fortune of the Rougons

The Fortune of the Rougons

The Fortune of the Rougons