Émile Zola. Photo: Étienne Carjat

In 1908, six years after his death, Emile Zola’s remains were exhumed from their quiet resting place in Montmartre and transported to the Pantheon, where the author of J’accuse was to neighbor his early hero, Victor Hugo. It had seemed only right, at least after Zola’s Dreyfusard ally, Georges Clemenceau, had taken over the reins of the Republic, to cede to the great man the glory that was his due. Thus was foreshadowed Zola’s later fate, which he suffers to this day—that of the national literary hero, a figure of deadly boring respectability. No one can doubt the...

 
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