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ZOLA’S WOMAN AS UNNATURAL ANIMALbyNoémie I. Parrat“Licentiata Philosophiae,” University of Zurich, Switzerland, 1998Submitted to the Graduate Faculty ofThe Department of French and Italian in partial fulfillmentof the requirements for the degree ofDoctor of PhilosophyUniversity of Pittsburgh2004

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGHFACULTY OF ARTS AND SCIENCESThis dissertation was presentedbyNoémie I. ParratIt was defended onJanuary 9, 2004and approved byDr. Yves CittonDr. Eric ClarkeDr. Daniel RussellDr. Philip WattsDr. Giuseppina MecchiaDissertation Directorii

Copyright by Noémie I. Parrat2004iii

ZOLA’S WOMAN AS UNNATURAL ANIMALNoémie I. Parrat, PhDUniversity of Pittsburgh, 2004The purpose of this dissertation is to show how certain female characters in Zola question thereceived notion about the human-animal border and the related distinction between the male andthe female. The novels I examine are Madeleine Férat, La Faute de l’abbé Mouret, La Curée,Nana, and Travail. The renewal of interest in contemporary French philosophy on human-animalrelations serves as a framework for a reevaluation of the naturalist author, and my analysis ofanimal metaphors proposes a refinement of the status of the human in Zola. I show how femalecharacters constantly move between the human and the animal to the point of ending either in anambiguous human-animal in-between or in a transcendence of such a limit. In order to establish acontext for Zola’s work, I analyze different aspects of the human-animal discourse in 19thcentury culture, from the legendary theory of impregnation to androgyny and from sexualinversion to the myth of the femme fatale in both literature and in the arts. Gilles Deleuze’s andFélix Guattari’s notion of becoming-animal, which inscribes animal instincts within a positivediscourse, is my main critical reference. I also refer to Alain Badiou’s ethics of truth, whichdescribes the relation of ethics to subjectivity, in my discussion of the subjective status ofhumans seen as animals. This dissertation underscores oppositions inherent in the human animal,such as Nature versus society. As the title suggests, I posit an oxymoron in viewing woman as anunnatural animal, as an animal in conflict with its human nature or as a human in conflict with itsanimal side. The human-animal border is not only more frequently subverted but also morecomplex in female characters than in their male counterpart in Zola’s novels, thus illustratingiv

that the human-animal status of women characters poses a real problem while its malecounterpart is less puzzling. Maybe unwittingly, Zola’s women profoundly upset 19th centurydefinitions of both humanity and femininity, to a degree that almost contradicts Zola’s ownavowed positions in this matter.v

TABLE OF CONTENTSPREFACE . viii1. INTRODUCTION . 11.1.Contemporary Philosophical Discourse on the Human/Animal. 31.2.Deleuze and Guattari’s Becoming-Animal and -Woman in Zola. 91.3.Literature Review: Zola’s Women in Relation to the Human/Animal . 132. Zola and the Scientific: Influences, the Legendary Theory of Impregnation and Feminism 232.1.Contemporary Influences on Zola’s Conception of the Human as Animal. 232.2.Michelet’s Theories of Pure Love. 302.3.Lucas and the Theory of Impregnation. 362.4.Myth of the Impregnated Woman as Animal in Madeleine Férat. 382.5.The Theory of Impregnation in Thérèse Raquin and L’Assommoir . 472.6.The Scientific Myth of Impregnation from a Feminist Perspective . 503. Albine, Désirée, Emile and Badiou’s Ethics of Human and Animal Rights . 583.1.The Role of the Animal in Zola’s Life and Thoughts. 583.2.Albine and Désirée’s Animal Sides and Subjectivity in Badiou’s and Deleuze’s Terms . 673.3.Emile as Political Subject in the Dreyfus Affair. 803.4.Conclusion . 844. Renée as Androgynous Human Animal in La Curée. 874.1.Introduction to the Notion of Androgyny in the 19th Century . 874.2.Rape and Renée’s and Catherine’s Androgyny . 934.3.Excess and Maxime’s and Théophile’s Androgyny . 964.4.Renée’s Becoming-Animal with Maxime . 994.5.Renée as Diana. 1054.6.Renée’s and Thérèse’s Search for Desire . 1094.7.Renée and Maxime as Monsters . 1134.8.Toward a Transcendence of Animality. 1185. Zola and Medical-Literary Discourse on Homosexuality. 1205.1.The Human/the Animal in 19th Century Medical Discourse on Sexual Inversion . 1205.2.Zola’s Preface to Saint-Paul’s Medical Study on Homosexuality. 1305.3.Homosexuality in Animals . 1365.4.Zola’s Depiction of the Homosexual Baptiste in La Curée. 1395.5.Zola’s Preface to a Contemporary Lesbian Novel. 1415.6.Zola’s Depictions of the Two Lesbians in La Curée . 1465.7.Nana as Satin’s Lover . 1475.8.Conclusion: Male-Female Homosexuality versus Medical-Literary Discourse. 1526. Nana’s Enigmatic Human-Animal Status as Femme Fatale. 1576.1.The Myth of the Femme Fatale: Origins and Occurrences in 19th Century Literature1576.2.Images of the Femme Fatale in the Arts . 1686.3.Nana as Animalized Femme Fatale . 173vi

6.4.The Smell of the Femme Fatale Nana. 1796.5.Nana’s Metamorphoses into Animals. 1826.6.Nana at her Apogee. 1886.7.The End of the Femme Fatale. 1906.8.Conclusion . 1917.Toward a Utopian New Society: Lantier’s and Froment’s Battle against the Human Animal 1967.1.Etienne Lantier and his Fight against the Animalized Worker. 1967.2.Etienne Versus Chaval in Terms of Subjectivity. 1997.3.Etienne Lantier: Luc Froment’s Predecessor. 2017.4.Fourier and Letourneau in Travail. 2037.5.Luc Froment and Subjectivity. 2067.6.Tarde’s Notion of Imitation in Travail . 2097.7.The Machine as Agent of De-Animalization . 2117.8.Illusory Disappearance of l’Autre. 2127.9.Zola the Prophet. 2167.10.Toward an Eradication of Complexity. 2178. Conclusion . 219APPENDIX. 224BIBLIOGRAPHY. 225vii

PREFACEI would like to thank all my wonderful professors, both at the University of Zurich and at theUniversity of Pittsburgh, who showed me how exciting and challenging an academic careercould be. Thank you to Dr. Yves Citton, Dr. Daniel Russell and Dr. Phil Watts, who have beengreat sources of inspiration and remarkable mentors. Special thanks and warm gratitude go to myexceptional dissertation director, Dr. Giuseppina Mecchia, for her constant encouragement, forher enthusiasm about my project and for her outstanding intellectual support.This dissertation would not have been possible without my husband’s loving patience forthe long and numerous hours I spent with my computer. I also want to thank Jamie forproofreading every single page of this dissertation. This dissertation is dedicated to my familyand to animal lovers everywhere.viii

1.INTRODUCTIONIn a survey for La revue illustrée in 1892, Emile Zola gave the same one-word answer for thecategories “L’animal que je préfère”1 and “L’oiseau que je préfère:”2 “Tous.”3 Zola lovedanimals and could not prevent himself from incorporating them in his novels and in hisconception of the human subject. Besides numerous other animals, Zola himself owned a closerelative of man, a female macaque named Rhunka, whom he considers quite human and quitefree: “Elle est entièrement libre maintenant, elle court dans le jardin, et, en ce moment même,elle vient frapper à la fenêtre de mon salon, parce qu’il ne fait pas très chaud dehors.”4 Rhunkaseems to be free outside around the house but she needs Zola’s attention to come back inside.Her semi-freedom foreshadows Zola’s equivocal stance toward feminism and toward hisanimalized female characters. On the one hand, his macaque is anthropomorphized to someextent in having a name and in enjoying freedom, while a reversed situation in which women areanimalized occurs in the novels I will examine. This dissertation will discuss the extent of theanimalization of these characters as well as the consequence of their animalization on theirhuman status. By focusing on the animal side of a selection of characters, this study proposes arefinement of the status of the human in Zola, in particular of the male and the female. It alsodiscusses the role of animality and of its tension in the definition of man, who is a reasonablebeing at constant risk of falling into bestiality: “Le franchissement de l’obstacle que représente1Colette Becker, Emile Zola entre le doute et rêve de totalité (Paris: Hachette, 1993) 272.2Becker 272.3Becker 272.4Emile Zola, Correspondance: les lettres et les arts (Paris: Charpentier, 1908) 71.1

l’animalité est constitutive de cette définition; une telle tension fait de l’essence de l’homme unecontradiction quasiment impossible à résorber.”5On various occasions, Zola underlines the animality of the human; for example, at onepoint, he states that “Il y a un fonds de bête humaine chez tous.”6 Even his definition ofnaturalism reinforces his concern in the importance of Nature to man: “C’est un retour àl’homme et à la nature, à la nature considérée dans son action, à l’homme considéré dans sesbesoins et dans ses instincts.”7 The naturalist project thus implies a search for truth by analyzingphysiological man in a certain environment. By being compared to animals, which implies areturn to Nature, women such as Nana and Renée may seem to be beasts fulfilling base instincts.Yet I will show how such female characters constantly move between the human and the animalto the point of ending either in an ambiguous human-animal in-between or in a transcendence ofsuch a limit. This dissertation will underscore oppositions inherent in the human animal, such asNature versus society or instinct versus institution. Its title already suggests an oxymoron inviewing woman as an unnatural animal, as an animal in conflict with its human nature or as ahuman in conflict with its animal side. However my analysis concentrates on the limit betweenthe human and the animal, a border which is often blurred in novels but which is clearer inscientific and philosophical discourse. In the novels I examine, a striking majority of animalmetaphors are attributed to female characters. Almost all of them are associated with Madeleinein Madeleine Férat. Twenty-three are used to describe Désirée and Albine while only five todepict Serge in La faute de l’abbé Mouret. Renée has twice as many metaphors as Aristide in La5Florence Burgat, Animal, mon prochain (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1997) 74.6Emile Zola, Le roman expérimental (Paris: Garnier-Flammarion, 1971) 152.7Zola, Roman expérimental 350.2

curée, and Nana also counts twice as many anima