• Illness, Aesthetics, and Body Politics: Forging the Third Republic in Émile Zola’s 'La Faute de l’abbé Mouret'

    Author(s):
    Kit Yee Wong (see profile)
    Date:
    2021
    Group(s):
    American Literature, English Literature, Literary theory, Medical Humanities, Philosophy of Religion
    Subject(s):
    Religion, Secularism, Human body, French literature, Faute de l'abbé Mouret (Zola, Émile), Political science, Diseases, 1870-1940, Sin, Original, Theology
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/bpc5-nd73
    Abstract:
    This article examines the political role of illness in Émile Zola’s 'La Faute de l’abbé Mouret' ('The Sin of Father Mouret', 1875) in articulating the difference between a religious and a secular body. Published in the early French Third Republic (1870–1940), this novel shows the Zolian body as the nexus upon which religious and republican discourses compete. Using Paul Ricœur’s theory on Christianity’s original sin, this article compares Mouret’s sickness with physical evil and illustrates how Zola redeploys the traditional religious symbols of the heart, the blood, and the Word to the secular realm. It will show that original sin is a Christian myth inscribed on the body, and that Zola’s reformulation of a core religious doctrine dismantles its supporting framework for the fledgling secular Third Republic. Through an exploration of Zola’s attempt to forge a republican self, this article offers a new perspective on the nature of the Zolian body which merits further study under the field of Medical Humanities. Through the construction of the religious body, the essay also contributes to the wider critical discussion on mythology in Zola’s work.
    Notes:
    Published in open access
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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