BookTalk event, 19 Nov 2015: Émile Zola, La Bête humaine (1890)

Our 2015/16 season kicks off on the 19th of November with a twist to the BookTalk formula …

Join us for a preview of BBC Radio 4’s forthcoming new series, Émile Zola: Blood, Sex and Money, La Béte humaine (1890)a 27-episode ‘mash-up’ of radio adaptations that draw on the French author’s Les Rougon-Macquart novel sequence, which was published in 20 volumes between 1871 and 1893. Set during the Second Empire of Napoleon III, Les Rougon-Macquart trace the fortunes and fates of the Rougon, Macquart and Mouret families, as interpreted through lens of Zola’s interest in heredity and evolution. In the course of its development, the cycle presents its readers with unflinching stories about power, lust, crime and addiction.

The BBC’s creative team have adapted the novels into three series, each comprising nine episodes to be broadcast over the course of a week. Each of the series takes as its respective theme the titular themes of blood, sex and money. The series is written by Dan Rebellato, Olly Emmanuel and Martin Jameson and produced by Pauline Harris, Polly Thomas and Kirsty Williams, with Dr Kate Griffiths of Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages acting as Academic Consultant. Blood, Sex and Money will witness the return of twice Oscar-winner and former MP Glenda Jackson to acting for the first time in 20 years as well as Robert Lindsay and Georgina Campbell. The first series, ‘Blood’, will begin its broadcast on 16th of November, and there will be an accompanying documentary, Blood, Sex and Money: The Life and Work of Emile Zola, broadcast on Radio 4 at 4–4.30pm on 16th of November.

The BookTalk event on the 19th will offer the audience an opportunity to preview the ninth episode of the first season in an hour-long ‘dark listening’. The episode draws primarily on La Bête humaine (The beast within, 1890), Zola’s 17th book in Les Rougon-Macquart, a psychological thriller that presents a lurid tale of insanity and murder in Paris. Following the dark listening will be a series of short presentations with Dan Rebellato, writer of the episode; Polly Thomas, the episode’s producer; and Kate Griffiths, the academic consultant on the series. A Q&A session will follow, offering an opportunity for wider discussion with the audience.

As usual, the main event will be preceded by a reception with tea, coffee and biscuits at 6.30pm in Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road, Cardiff CF24 4HQ.

All welcome! Book your free tickets via Eventbrite by clicking here.

About the author

Emile Zola (1840–1902)Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola was born in Paris in 1840, the son of an Venetian engineer (Francesco) and a French mother (Émilie Aubert). The family moved to the southeast of France in 1843, but by 1847, Francesco died, leaving his wife and child in straitened circumstances. Eleven years later, the Zolas moved to Paris, where they were joined by Émile’s childhood friend, the painter Paul Cézanne. While his mother had planned a law career for Émile, he failed his examinations and pursued a career as a writer instead. Before achieving literary success, Zola worked as a shipping clerk in a shipping firm and then in the sales department of the publishing firm Hachette. He also wrote literary and art reviews for newspapers, and began a prolific career mainly as a writer of fiction, more than half of which comprised the 28 novels of Les Rougon-Maquart, which Zola commenced planning from the age of 28. The novels are set in France’s Second Empire (1852–1870), and trace the influence of environmental factors, such as violence, alcoholism and prostitution, on the lives of his characters. Zola died at the age of 62, as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from an unventilated chimney.

More about Emile Zola: Blood, Sex and Money