Émile Zola

The Great Illusion by Jean Renoir

The Great Illusion by Jean Renoir

On September 15, 1894, French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author Jean Renoir was born. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s. Jean Renoir, as a representative of the Poetic Realism of the 1930s, created important film classics such as La Grande Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939). “To the question, ‘Is the cinema…
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The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Decadence of Joris-Karl Huysmans

On May 12, 1907, French writer and art critic Joris-Karl Huysmans passed away. Hysmans is most famous for the novel “À rebours”, by which he broke from Naturalism and became the ultimate example of “decadent” literature. Huysmans’ work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. “Immersed in solitude, he would dream or read far into the night. By protracted contemplation…
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Paul Cézanne – Breaking all the Rules

Paul Cézanne – Breaking all the Rules

On January 19, 1839, French artist and Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne was born. He laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th-century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Thus, Cézanne can be said to bridge between late 19th-century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s Cubism. “Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.”, Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne, –…
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J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

Title page with Émile Zola’s famous public letter ‘J’accuse…!’ On January 13, 1898, French novellist Émile Zola published an open letter in the newspaper L’Aurore entitled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”). In the letter, Zola addressed the President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. The Suspicious Bordereau…
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Egon Erwin Kisch – The frenzied Reporter

Egon Erwin Kisch – The frenzied Reporter

On April 29, 1885, Austrian and Czechoslovak writer and journalist Egon Erwin Kisch was born. Kisch styled himself Der Rasende Reporter (The frenzied reporter) for his countless travels to the far corners of the globe and his equally numerous articles produced in a relatively short time (Hetzjagd durch die Zeit, 1925), Kisch was noted for his development of literary reportage and his opposition to Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi regime. “And there is nothing more…
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Cesare Lombroso – The Father of Criminology

Cesare Lombroso – The Father of Criminology

On November 6, 1835, Italian criminologist and physician Cesare Lombroso was born. Lombroso was the founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology, and is often referred to as the father of criminology. He rejected the established classical school, which held that crime was a characteristic trait of human nature. Instead, using concepts drawn from physiognomy, degeneration theory, psychiatry and Social Darwinism, Lombroso‘s theory of anthropological criminology essentially stated that criminality was…
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Guy de Maupassant – Master of the Short Story

Guy de Maupassant – Master of the Short Story

On August 5, 1850, French writer Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was born. Maupassant is remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the naturalist school of writers, who depicted human lives and destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms. I’ve read Maupassant‘s Bel Ami by the time I graduated in computer science, a novel that did make a lasting impression. What I…
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The Paris Salon des Refusés of 1863

The Paris Salon des Refusés of 1863

On May 15, 1863, the Salon des Refusés in Paris was opened, an exhibition of works rejected by the jury of the official Paris Salon. In 1863 the Salon jury refused two thirds of the paintings presented, including the works of Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissaro and Johan Jongkind, marking the birth of the avant-garde. Upon the protest of the artists, emperor Napoleon III decided to let the public judge and…
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Heinrich Mann – Social Criticism, Marlene Dietrich, and Californian Exile

Heinrich Mann – Social Criticism, Marlene Dietrich, and Californian Exile

On March 27, 1871, German novelist Luiz (Ludwig) Heinrich Mann was born. Being the elder brother of Nobel laureate Thomas Mann,[4] he wrote works with strong social themes. His numerous criticisms of the growth of fascism forced him to flee for his life after the Nazis came to power in 1933. His book “Professor Unrat” was freely adapted into the legendary movie “Der Blaue Engel” starring Marlene Dietrich in her first major role.…
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