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Part of the "Les Rougon-Macquart" series about two branches of a French family traced through several generations. The behaviour of the two families is shown to be conditioned by environment and inherited characteristics, chiefly drunkenness and mental instability.
Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years. Robin Buss is a translator and journalist. He has translated a number of works for Penguin Classics, including works by Dumas and Sartre.