Books Magazine

Therese Raquin

By Drharrietd @drharrietd

61LQmaP9FkL._SL500_AA300_I've made a strange and disquieting discovery. A few days ago, dovegreyreader was urging people to read Zola, and, though I didn't say so in the comments, I thought I might join in. I looked for a free e-book and found Therese Raquin, which I duly downloaded and started to read. I've read about half of it, but I found I wasn't enjoying it at all. For a start it seemed as if it was all a bit familiar, but as I'd seen it on TV a million years ago that didn't really surprise me. Also, the translation I'd downloaded - by one Ernest Vizetelly - is about the worst, clunkiest translation I have ever read. 

These two hands, one in the other, were burning; the moist palms adhered,and the fingers held tightly together, were hurt at each pressure. It seemed to Laurent and Therese that the blood from one penetrated the chest of the other, passing through their joined fists. These fists became a live fire whereon their lives were boiling.

Well of course it does say much the same in French. But honestly, Ernest, you could have done a bit better than that. And, above all, I just was not enjoying the story at all. It seemed terribly depressing and terribly melodramatic -- passion, lust, murder, suicide -- none of which I wanted to read about, really.

Anyway, I'd decided I was going to give up on the book -- chuck it onto my ever-growing pile of abandoned books -- and as I knew I'd read some Zola before, I thought I'd find a post or two in the archive to prove it. Yes, indeed, I had. I read Nana in 2007, and thought it was brilliant. Then I read another -- and what was it? Therese Raquin. And, what's more, I seem to have enjoyed it. Ironically, the last line of that 2007 review says 'it will stay with me for a long time'. Not long enough, clearly. 

I'm not quite sure what to make of all this. It's not the first time I've read a good way into a book and then realised I'd read it before. Rather stranger to me is how much I seem to have liked it the first time round, and how much I disliked it this time. Perhaps just the mood of the moment, or perhaps my reading tastes have changed.

I've just found another Zola on the bookshelf -- Au Bonheur des Dames, in French. Not sure if my French is up to it, but I'm thinking I might have a go. There was a TV adaptation of this last year and the only episode I saw didn't impress me very much. But I'd like to give Zola another chance. 

Anybody else ever done anything like this?

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