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Commemorating TraumaThe Paris Commune and Its Cultural Aftermath$
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Peter Starr

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226030

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823226030.001.0001

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The Time of Our Melancholy: Zola's Débâcle

The Time of Our Melancholy: Zola's Débâcle

(p.41) 2 The Time of Our Melancholy: Zola's Débâcle
Commemorating Trauma

Peter Starr

Fordham University Press

The aim of this chapter is to use the concept of “confusion” in the wide range of its manifestations in La Débâcle—military, historical, ideological, sexual, and so on—to unpack the several forms of ideological ambivalence at the heart of Zola's novel. No other text of Zola's uses the term “confusion” as often or to such patently critical effect, yet that critical thrust is curiously undercut by the novel's deployment of confusion to specific aesthetic ends. In the first section of this chapter, the author explores the tension between Zola's critique of confusion and his recourse there to in terms of a larger pattern of disavowal typical of Zola's plotting. This focus on disavowal leads, in the chapter's middle section, to an analysis of the melancholic ambivalence inherent in Zola's take on Republican ideology.

Keywords:   Zola, La Débâcle, confusion, Republican ideology, disavowal

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