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The Story

I will be posting a detailed synopsis of the story soon, but for the time being, I have posted on this page descriptions of the story from the famous novel. [Note: 'spoiler' alert!] Reviews of the screenplay are not yet available.

Novel by Emile Zola, first published serially as Un Mariage d'Amour in 1867 and published in book form with the present title in the same year. Believing that an author must simply establish his characters in their particular environment and then observe and record their actions as if conducting an experiment, Zola nonetheless adopted a highly moral, unscientific tone in this grisly novel, the first to put his "analytical method" into practice. The sensual Therese and her lover Laurent murder her weak husband Camille. After marrying, they are haunted by Camille's ghost, and their passion for each other turns to hatred. Conservative readers accused Zola of prurience; the novel, however, illustrates the author's belief that sexual pleasure leads only to brutality and destruction. ~~Merrian-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Emile Zola's seminal work of naturalistic fiction caused an international scandal when published in 1867. Zola's blunt, unprettified representation of the most sordid elements of life--infidelity, murder, madness and suicide--seemed revolutionary in the context of his time. Especially remarkable was Zola's gritty portrayal of his eponymous central character Therese, a brilliantly radical departure from the simpering female prototypes of Victorian convention. ~~ F. Kathleen Foley, LA Times

Talking with Liz Smith for today's New York Post, actress Kate Winslet revealed she's heading into very dark territory in her next film "Therese Raquin". Based on the 1867 Emile Zola novel, the story follows a sensual woman named Therese and her lover Laurent who plot to kill her weakling husband Camille. After the deed is done however, Camille's ghost begins to haunt them and the pair's passion for each other turns to hatred - all boiling down to a shocking ending. ~~Dark Horizons, October 19, 1999

Zola's Therese Raquin caused an international scandal when published in 1867. His blunt representation of infidelity, murder, madness and suicide seemed too revolutionary for its time. The story has everything a classic should have: great use of language, style, insights into human feeling and conflict. A dark and grizzly horror story. ~~Bare Faced Cheek Theatre Review

    Emile Zola's Therese Raquin (1867) is the story of two adulterous lovers (Laurent and Therese) who, for very French reasons (ennui), decide to murder her husband (Camille). They pull off the murder, and after a suitable period of mourning, Laurent moves in with Therese and her unsuspecting mother-in-law. The remaining 150 pages is about their suffering. Therese and Laurent are slowly driven insane by their repressed guilt over the murder. Camille's dying act was to bite Laurent on the neck--and Laurent worries this bite the way Lady Macbeth washes her hands. One of the earliest examples of naturalism, the book caused a scandal when it was published, and you can see why--the gore, the brutality, the lack of sincere feeling on the part of any character. I loved it!
    From Therese Raquin: "Day by day the situation between husband and wife became more strained and untenable. At any moment a single spark would blow everything up...For them everything led to panic and suffering. They lived in an inferno, hurting each other, turning everything they did and said into bitterness and cruelty, each trying to push the other into the abyss yawning at their feet, and at the same time falling in. Of course each of them had thought about separation...But they neither dared to run away nor could. It seemed impossible not to go on rending each other to pieces, not to stay there suffering and inflicting suffering. They were possessed by a lust for hatred and cruelty." ~~"Hometown"

Laurent, the seducer, resolves only to start his affair with Therese when he is "certain in his own mind that he really had something to gain.'' He ponders what he is about to do and reflects that "it was a long time since he had last satisfied his appetites." Once the affair begins, Laurent is nervous, but "Therese had no such doubts. She gave herself to him unsparingly, going straight where her passion led." At one point, the cautious Laurent remonstrates with the passionate Therese that she is too noisy in lovemaking: "For heaven's sake ... don't make such a racket." ~~James Wood, The New Republic


Read a brief bio of author Emile Zola.