Even though Thérèse Raquin (1867) is not Zola’s first novel (La Confession de Claude [Claude’s Confession] was written two years earlier in 1865), it is usually regarded as his first masterpiece and a worthy precursor to the famous twenty-volume cycle of Les Rougon-Macquart: Histoire naturelle et sociale d’une famille sous le Second Empire [The Rougon-Macquart: A Social and Natural History of a Family Under the Second Empire] (1871-1893). In this novel of adulterous sex, murder, remorse and madness, Zola first applies to telling effect his newly-acquired naturalist theories, as he claims in his preface to the second edition of the novel in 1868.
Influenced by Hippolyte Taine and by the less famous Emile Deschanel, advocates of the scientific method in literature, Zola had first
Citation: Dousteyssier-Khoze, Catherine. "Thérèse Raquin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 June 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=11307, accessed 07 December 2023.]