The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

a minor zola novel

Finally, finally I can put Emile Zola's THE DEBACLE back on the shelf. I brought it to Texas this July, thinking that I'd read it quickly there, but I only got a few chapters into it before we returned to Austin. Then school started, I had to write a presentation, this and that, and so it took forever to finally finish it: but finish it I did, last night. It's certainly the least of the Zola novels I've read, but it was still relatively interesting. It's a grunt's-eye view of the battle of Sedan in the Franco-Prussian Wra of 1870, a war whose planning, at least on the French side, seems to make Don Rumsfeld look like a tactical genius. I decided to pick it up, I think, because it promised to be a fictionalized depiction of the Paris Commune of 1871 (which it really wasn't). What it was, though, was GORY, of a Cormac McCarthy level. Let's just say that field surgery in 1870 involved a lot of amputations. A lot. Pretty much that was what "medicine" consisted of. And there weren't those neat "HAZARDOUS MEDICAL WASTE" bags either--just piles of limbs.



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