Some opening observations on Émile Zola, and his novel, Lourdes

Émile Zola hasn't been discussed much in my reading circles of friends, and I think it's time I helped correct that oversight.

The Octopus The Epic of the Wheat A Story of California (Signet Classic) Lourdes (Literary Classics)

I do recall Zola's name coming up frequently during a group read of Frank Norris' now dated, The Octopus: A Story of California, in late 2009, with its obvious naturalistic influence and homage paid to Zola, but besides that experience, I know very little about Zola's work, but am intrigued to know more by the little I've gleaned lately.  So, oh you dear single-digits-of-readers-of-mine, please do share your insights and reading experiences you've had with this writer (leave me a comment, in other words), a writer whom for the first half of the twentieth century was largely forgotten/ignored/not taken seriously, by the English speaking world.

Reproduction of a Poster Advertising the Publication of "Rome" by Emile Zola, in "Le Journal" Giclee Poster Print by Charles Lucas, 18x24 The Belly of Paris

I recently began reading Lourdes (1894), the first novel in Zola's lesser known Les Trois Villes sequence, (lesser known next to the twenty novels comprising his famous Les Rougon-Macquart, of which Germinal, 1885, has been the most praised and widely read) and am enjoying the novel a lot.  The other two novels in Les Troiles Villes are Rome (1896) and Paris (1898).

La Question Sociale Dans Émile Zola: Les Rougon-Macquart, Les Trois Villes (Lourdes, Rome, Paris) ... (French Edition) Les Trois Villes: Lourdes (Dodo Press) (French Edition) 

Lourdes focuses primarily on the plights of poor (and very ill) and very desperate pilgrims making their journey of faith (often their last resort) -- on a hot and reeking and crowded train ride, accompanied by the Sisters of the Assumption -- from Paris to Lourdes, the site where hoped-for miracles occur; where the Blessed healing Virgin awaits.  Some also go to Lourdes for hospitalisation, the wealthier ones who can afford it, that is; or ones whom, in lieu of a generous donation, the Church has nevertheless authorized medical care be given.

More on Émile Zola and Lourdes coming soon ... 

Lourdes today, in the foothills of the Pyrenees of southern France