The Earth

By Emile Zola.

I first heard about Zola in a comment by Paulette many moons ago. She wasn’t talking about the earth though. This I read because of a short review by Mark Twain where he said the book had so much sex, the French stopped its serialisation in their dailies. I told myself that must have been a lot sex. I am afraid, Mark Twain lied. I was disappointed.

The Earth is set in Rognes. Our star characters are peasants and their attachment to their land.

The peasants in Rognes are indifferent to religion and seems to me to take great pleasure in pissing of their priest.

La Grande is the meanest grandma in the whole book.

Fouan is one unlucky man. Divides his land to his children and they take turns turning him out from their houses until, finally, he is murdered by Buteau(his son) and Lise(niece and wife of Buteau) who suffocate him in their house and attempt to burn his corpse. The Buteaus get away with the murder of Francoise and that of old Fouan.

Tron kills Hourdequin out of jealousy so he can have La Cognete, the mistress to the boss.

Hyacinthe is that easy going son who is not a slave of the land as his fellow peasants. When their father Fouan gives each of them their inheritance, he mortgages his so he can drink and live a merry life. La Trouille, his daughter, is a thief.

The characters are well developed. The story quite well told. At the end, one wants to know what is in La Grande’s will and the manner of her death.

Or what happens to Jean, that unhappy man whose wife leaves him nothing and is turned out of the house by his in-laws.

And the issue of the war with Prussia. How does it end.

It is a book I would recommend.

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I said somewhere I am reading Zola’s the earth. It’s such a work!

Somewhere he writes

Is misfortune ever at an end? This universal suffrage, now, it don’t bring meat to the pot, does it? The land tax weighs us down, they keep on taking our children to fight. It’s not a bit of use having revolutions, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other, and a peasant always remains a peasant.

And for some reason, this would almost reflect the situation of the poor in Kenya. First, the concern of most people is food. I would call it the politics of food. In place of land tax, I would name the many varied taxes the thieving government imposes on the working classes. And maybe, one would almost conclude elections don’t help us. The poor almost always remain poor.