Most Resonant Books: “Thérèse Raquin” by Émile Zola

“They dared not peer down into their own natures, down into the feverish confusion that filled their minds with a kind of dense, acrid mist.”

-Émile Zola

I first watched Elizabeth Olsen’s Thérèse in Charlie Stratton’s adaptation “In Secret” of Émile Zola’s novel “Thérèse Raquin” on a rainy afternoon during one of the hottest summers I can remember.
After I realised that the film was indeed based on a French novel by a writer that I came across various times in my literary studies but always classified as not my cup of tea, I thought let’s give Zola another chance because the story and the characters were right up my alley.
I ordered the French classic in one of my favourite German bookshops and it arrived just in time to become my holiday reading as I travelled to Romania.
I mean I had an idea about what was coming my way, but I did not foresee that kind of psychological depth and volatile insanity, and trust me, Laurent and Thérèse are probably amongst the last people you want with you on a plane, not to mention the catastrophic energy between them.
I devoured the novel on a balcony in Romanian heat with a cup of black coffee that turned colder and colder.
Every little sound outside of the book made me jump up, I was so tense and engulfed in the characters’ excruciating guilt, the projection thereof, the involuntary and helpless evocation of the paranormal and the self-destructive deterioration of their at first intense almost animalistic sexual appetite.
When I finished the story, its abysmal terrors and the visceral language diving into claustrophobia-inducing psyches and mad bodies, stayed with me and I knew in every bone in my body that I had to include this text in its English version in my postgraduate thesis.


“Demonio, mundo y carne” by Juan Manuel Blanes (1830-1901)

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