EMILE ZOLA QUOTES

French writer (1840-1902)

Emile Zola quote

If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way.

EMILE ZOLA, attributed, Dreyfus: His Life and Letters

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Tags: truth


If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: "I am here to live out loud."

EMILE ZOLA, attributed, And I Quote

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Tags: artists


Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.

EMILE ZOLA, attributed, The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations: Cutting Comments on Burning Issues

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Tags: religion


Truth is on the march; nothing can stop it now.

EMILE ZOLA, manifesto, Le Figaro

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The past was but the cemetery of our illusions: one simply stubbed one's toes on the gravestones.

EMILE ZOLA, The Masterpiece

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Tags: past


Respectable people ... What bastards!

EMILE ZOLA, The Belly of Paris

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Everything is only a dream.

EMILE ZOLA, La Reve

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Tags: dreams


I do not seek to defend myself.... My work will defend me. It is a work of truth, the first novel of the people which does not lie and which possesses the odour of the people. And one must not conclude that all the lower classes are bad, for my characters are not bad, they are only ignorant and spoilt by the surroundings of rough work and misery amidst which they live. Only, it is necessary to read my novels, to understand them, to see them clearly as a whole, before entertaining the grotesque and odious judgments formed beforehand, which are circulating about my person and my works. Ah! If it were only known how my friends laugh at the amazing legend which serves to amuse the crowd! If it were only known that the blood-drinker, the ferocious novelist, is a worthy citizen, a man of study and art, living discreetly in his corner, and whose sole ambition is to leave behind him a work as vast and lifelike as he can.

EMILE ZOLA, preface, The Assommoir

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My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul.

EMILE ZOLA, "J'accuse!"

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There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.

EMILE ZOLA, letter to Paul Cezanne, Apr. 16, 1860

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If I cannot overwhelm with my quality, I will overwhelm with my quantity.

EMILE ZOLA, attributed, And I Quote

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Classical education has deformed everything, and has imposed upon us as geniuses men of correct, facile talent, who follow the beaten track.

EMILE ZOLA, The Masterpiece

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Tags: genius


If people can just love each other a little bit, they can be so happy.

EMILE ZOLA, Germinal

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Tags: love


We are told of the honor of the army; we are supposed to love and respect it. Ah, yes, of course, an army that would rise to the first threat, that would defend French soil, that army is the nation itself, and for that army we have nothing but devotion and respect. But this is not about that army, whose dignity we are seeking, in our cry for justice. What is at stake is the sword, the master that will one day, perhaps, be forced upon us. Bow and scrape before that sword, that god? No!

EMILE ZOLA, an open letter to French President Felix Faure on the scandal known as the Dreyfuss Affair, "J'accuse!", L'Aurore, Jan. 13, 1898

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Have you ever reflected that posterity may not be the faultless dispenser of justice that we dream of? One consoles oneself for being insulted and denied, by reyling on the equity of the centuries to come; just as the faithful endure all the abominations of this earth in the firm belief of another life, in which each will be rewarded according to his deserts. But suppose Paradise exists no more for the artist than it does for the Catholic, suppose that future generations prolong the misunderstanding and prefer amiable little trifles to vigorous works! Ah! What a sell it would be, eh? To have led a convict's life--to have screwed oneself down to one's work--all for a mere delusion!

EMILE ZOLA, The Masterpiece

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Tags: justice


From the moment I start a new novel, life's just one endless torture. The first few chapters may go fairly well and I may feel there's still a chance to prove my worth, but that feeling soon disappears and every day I feel less and less satisfied. I begin to say the book's no good, far inferior to my earlier ones, until I've wrung torture out of every page, every sentence, every word, and the very commas begin to look excruciatingly ugly. Then, when it's finished, what a relief! Not the blissful delight of the gentleman who goes into ecstasies over his own production, but the resentful relief of a porter dropping a burden that's nearly broken his back ... Then it starts all over again, and it'll go on starting all over again till it grinds the life out of me, and I shall end my days furious with myself for lacking talent, for not leaving behind a more finished work, a bigger pile of books, and lie on my death-bed filled with awful doubts about the task I've done, wondering whether it was as it ought to have been, whether I ought not to have done this or that, expressing with my last dying breath the wish that I might do it all over again!

EMILE ZOLA, The Masterpiece

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Tags: writing


A new dynasty is never founded without a struggle. Blood makes good manure.

EMILE ZOLA, The Fortune of the Rougons

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A god of kindness would be charitable to all. Your god of wrath and punishment is but a monstrous phantasy.

EMILE ZOLA, Truth

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Tags: God


One forges one's style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.

EMILE ZOLA, Le Figaro

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In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.

EMILE ZOLA, attributed, Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography

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Tags: photography