Looking at Manet: Writings on Manet by Emile Zola

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9781843680901: Looking at Manet: Writings on Manet by Emile Zola
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Bringing together the groundbreaking criticism of Manet written by Emile Zola, this volume takes everything from his vigorous defense of the iconoclastic young painter to the memorial essay written after the artist's untimely death

“Time will succeed in classing him among the great workmen of this century who have given their life that truth might triumph.”  — Zola on Manet, 1884

No one has written better on Manet than his friend Emile Zola, nor explained more clearly how modern art came into being through Manet’s genius. This volume collects all of Zola’s significant writings on Manet, from his passionate defense of the iconoclastic young painter to the essay written for the memorial exhibition after Manet’s untimely death. Manet’s career was surrounded by controversy almost from the very start. The hard-edged technique of his early works was not what Salon audiences expected, and when he started painting subjects as uncompromising as the unclothed picnicker in the Déjeuner sur l’herbe or the aggressively naked young courtesan in Olympia, with her suggestive cat, Paris was outraged. Such scandal was grist to the mill of his friend, the great Realist novelist Emile Zola. Zola’s vigorous polemic in Manet’s defense is justly famous as one of the finest writings on art of the 19th century. Manet thanked Zola by painting his portrait, which the novelist commemorated in a further essay; and when Manet died at the early age of 51, Zola wrote a moving summation of his life’s work. All these writings are included in this volume, which is introduced by the Zola specialist Robert Lethbridge.

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Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading writer of the Realist school, most famous for his series of 20 social novels, Les Rougon-Macquart. His passionate engagement with liberal politics led to his decisive intervention in the Dreyfus affair in 1898, the letter "J'accuse...!" Robert Lethbridge is Master of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Honorary Professor of French at the University of Cambridge, Emeritus Professor of French Language and Literature in the University of London. He has written extensively on Zola and on the relationship of literature and the arts in 19th century France. He was made Chevalier des Palmes Academiques in 1998.

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