The Death Of Olivier Becaille

Author: Emile Zola


  • Reviewed by Orla MacDonald.  on  October 12th, 2009

    The prize of the week! Zola never ceases to attract and fascinate me, the reader. His attention to detail, his skillful evocation of place and atmosphere, his well drawn characters and meandering plots, place him in the forefront of the literary greats (in my humble opinion).
    In this story Zola toys with death, with consciousness and semi-consciousness, with being 'in a swoom,' in a dream like state, and with the horror of being buried alive. Is it complete annihilation? Becaille, the lead character and narrator, ponders this question. 'One second in nihility.'
    'The doctor of the dead' makes a brief appearance and disappears. The undertaker and workmen too. Zola's humour is evident. The coffin is too long for the corpse. 'He'll have all the more room.' A workman responds. With reference to the new beau in Marguerite's life - 'A dead man is not jealous."
    It is a wonderful story, beautifully paced and speckled with unique characters. I was gripped for the duration.

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