Lot n° 256
150000 - 200000
ZOLA Émile (1840-1902).
200 L.A. (some signed or initialled and 3 telegrams), 1892-1902, to Jeanne ROZEROT; 362 pages in-8 or in-12, plus 2 photos and 53 envelopes, all mounted on tabs on wove paper, and bound in 2 strong volumes in-4 (28 x 22 cm) half blue morocco with corners; initials E. Z. - J. R. gilt on the top left of the boards; smooth spines, gilt titles.
Magnificent and tender correspondence from Zola to Jeanne Rozerot, his mistress and the mother of his children.
It is really a second life which begins when Zola makes, in May 1888, the knowledge of Jeanne Rozerot. She had just been hired as a maid and linen maid in the Zola house in Médan. He is approaching fifty and has almost completed the cycle of the Rougon-Macquart. Success and literary glory are his, but he feels a deep sense of dissatisfaction in his personal life. Since 1864 he has been living with Alexandrine, whom he married in 1870. To the wear and tear of time is added the fact that she could not give him the children he wanted. In these circumstances, the meeting of Jeanne Rozerot will constitute the miracle he was waiting for. She was 21 years old. She was born in 1867 in a small village in Burgundy, daughter of a farm worker. In 1882, together with her sister, she came to try her luck in the Parisian suburbs. She is a very beautiful young woman, brown, graceful, slender. Zola was obviously inspired by her figure for the Benedetta of Rome: "the round face, the slightly strong lips, the very fine nose, features of a childhood delicacy", "with her hair so heavy, and so brown, her skin so white, of an ivory whiteness".
Jeanne gives herself to him on December 11, 1888; this anniversary is evoked in a letter of 1898: "How sad I will be next Sunday, December 11, not to be near you to embrace you at least with all my heart, in memory of December 11, 1888! [...] I kiss you with all my heart, with all my love, as I did ten years ago, when, for the first time, you were my chosen and adored wife".
Because the passion of Emile for Jeanne does not resemble in anything the ancillary loves In all this correspondence, the novelist calls her inevitably "dear woman", "dear beloved woman".../...
or "dear adored woman". The novelist loves Jeanne with a conjugal love. She gives him a first daughter, Denise, in 1889, followed by a son, Jacques, two years later. From then on, the novelist's double existence is set up. He moved Jeanne and her child to Cheverchemont, a stone's throw from Médan, where he could observe them with a telescope.
Very quickly, his intimates are in the secret. Zola, who has found happiness, cannot bring himself to leave Alexandrine, with whom he has been united by so many years of shared hardship. Alexandrine was unaware of her husband's secret life until an anonymous letter in November 1891 told her the truth. She then enters a terrible crisis and goes to Jeanne's home where she steals, then destroys, all the letters that the novelist had sent to his mistress.
The present correspondence opens with a letter of 28 July 1892, the previous letters having disappeared because of Alexandrine's fury. It seems that Zola had feared an act of violent fury and truly feared for the life of Jeanne and her children at that time.1893, a new crisis on the occasion of the publication of Doctor Pascal, where, under the guise of fiction, the novelist transposes his affair in broad daylight, with the young woman who gives herself, and who gives birth ... But once again divorce is avoided and Alexandrine resigns herself as best she can to sharing her husband's love with Jeanne, by making long stays in Italy
These tensions explain the secrecy that surrounds this correspondence. The first letter is addressed under a code name to "Madame E. J. 70", poste restante. He himself is "Mr.
Z. R. 70 ". To avoid any indiscretion, it is often a third party who is in charge of transmitting the letters, the novelist Henry Céard, then the publisher Georges Charpentier. The first letters are written in haste with a pencil, to escape the surveillance of Alexandrine; for the same reasons, he leaves many of his letters without signature, or affixes a vague initial in the shape of Z. Alongside the hasty letters, a number of much longer letters are written when he is alone. The first ones betray the urgency, the pressing need to give news of his joining his second family by thought; Zola reveals himself then of a touching sensitivity. He becomes again a teenager in love, passing with emotion in front of the windows of his beloved. He is also full of tenderness and attention for his children. "I hope you are having a good time and that little Denise continues to take her baths, while little Jacq
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