French Realism to Naturalism: Stories by Balzac and Zola

GENINT 721.543

Osher (50+). This course reviews stories by Balzac and Zola and the genre of realism. These authors wrote critically about social classes and every corner of society.


What you can learn.

  • Identify realism genre
  • Understand social critique writing
  • Analyze various social classes across literature contexts

About this course:

In this course, we meet characters from every corner of society—lords and ladies, businessmen and military men, poor clerks, unforgiving moneylenders, aspiring politicians, artists, actresses, swindlers, misers, parasites, sexual adventurers, crackpots, and more. They appear in the pages of Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy, an interlinked chronicle of nineteen-century modernity in all its splendor and squalor. That work includes the novels that have influenced Balzac’s many literary inheritors—Dostoyevsky, Henry James, Marcel Proust—but also short fiction, some of which we will read. Later in the century, Émile Zola accepted the definition of Realism’s purpose—to write an exact picture of an author’s social environment—and extended his social critique to all classes of society in a series of novels and in short fiction, some of which we also read. Zola is a spokesman for Naturalism’s program: to portray the harsh conditions of the working class. Suggested books: The Human Comedy: Selected Stories (2014) and Émile Zola’s The Attack on the Mill and Other Stories (2000).

Contact Us

Speak to an Osher representative. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm.
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