The question of objectivity in Zola's Thérse Raquin : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in French at Massey University

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Massey University
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The first chapter examines the fascination the concept of objectivity held for certain French Realists including Emile Zola, acknowledged leader of the Naturalists who believed in the application of the scientific method to novel-writing. These writers sought to produce works of mimetic value and attached themselves to the tenets of objectivity in an attempt to achieve this. However it was recognized that their efforts at producing 'objective' novels were threatened by a requirement for artistry in published fiction. More recent thinking acknowledges that objectivity is not achievable, at least not in absolute terms. The problems inherent in various definitions of objectivity in fiction are examined and reveal general agreement that this kind of objectivity requires at least the appearance of detachment and neutrality by the author. In order to examine the question of the author's detachment, Chapter 2 ,makes a case for the distinctions of author, implied author and narrator to be blurred in Zola's Therese Raguin. Four distinct aspects of the narrating voice are examined. Examples are given of the various forms of commentary in the narrative which reveal the presence of the author-narrator. The author's preconceptions which threaten his neutrality are focused on in Chapter 3. The theory of determinism involving both causality and fatalism is seen as both abetting and threatening the author's attainment of a semblance of objectivity in the text. We examine the basis on which characters are presented and milieu is described in Therese Raquin. Zola is shown to be far from neutral.
Some French throughout.
Zola, Émile 1840-1902, Objectivity in literature, Criticism and interpretation