Monday, May 2, 2022

For a Night of Love by Émile Zola

💜 For a Night of Love is a collection of three stories with one similar theme: love. But, this is from Zola, so don't expect anything romantic - it's far from it! 😄

💜 Title of this collection is lent by the first story, which is also the longest - it might have been between short story and novella: For a Night of Love (Pour une nuit d’amour). It tells a story of a shy and unattractive young post office clerk, Julien, who lives in a small flat, and loves to play tunes in his flute. Opposite his flat is a large building occupied by a wealthy family with a beautiful daughter. Julien often watches her from his window, plays his flute for her, and eventually falls in love with the girl. But the girl, Thérèse, usually ignores him. One day she throws him kisses from her window, and summons him to come; not out of love, apparently, but to help her getting rid of the dead body of her lover.

💜 This first story sets the tone of the whole book - or at least the first two stories - which is the excessive crave to be loved.

💜 Nantas is the title of the second story, but also the name of its protagonist. He's a poor but intelligent young man with huge ambition, who comes to Paris to reach his dream, but desperately unsuccessful. On the brink of committing suicide, someone offers him a huge sum of money to marry a prominent young girl who is pregnant from a married man. He accepts the "business proposal", makes himself the most powerful man in France, but is unhappy because his wife doesn't return the love he eventually comes to feel for her. This one is my favorite from the the three stories. It is written superbly, and the ending is quite unpredictable.

💜 The last story is rather anticlimactic and rather out of theme. Fasting is about religion hypocrisies. In a church, a baroness seems to be fascinated while listening to her favorite priest's sermon about fasting - except that she is struggling to stay awake. The priest, on the other hand, seems to be preaching earnestly about fasting - except that all he's thinking all the while is going to a concert and having dinner with a countess. It's rather a funny satire, which talks nothing of love. Or, maybe, this whole thing is not meant to be about romantic love after all, but more about unsatiable desire, Zola's main topic in most of his other books.

💜 I am never a fan of short stories, as I always find them lacking of depth. They are usually sharp, yes, but it's like when a thorn is pricking your finger - you definitely feel the pain, but an hour later you won't feel anything, and would completely forget the incident. Though I appreciate Zola's brilliant writing in this collection, I still think his novels are much better.

Rating: 3,5 / 5

1 comment:

  1. Short stories are also perfect for when you're feeling time poor, but want to still have some reading time. They give a sense of achievment everytime you finish one :-)
    I've yet to try any of Zola's shorts, but they do sound rather good.


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