Australian Journal of French Studies

In it together, in Zola? Empathic Encounters in Naturalist Fiction

Australian Journal of French Studies (2020), 57, (1), 125–140.

Abstract

At a time when the “empathy turn” is bringing disciplines from psychology to philosophy, and from ethics to literary studies, into ever-closer dialogue, Zola’s fiction offers intriguing, complex examples of empathy. Framing my reading of three major novels of Zola relative to contemporary narrative empathy studies and broader societal concerns around empathy, I demonstrate how the Naturalist empathic narrative mobilizes the reader in the act of re-imagining the experience and the values of fictional characters. In the process, Zola’s fiction reveals the paradoxes and tensions of the empathy encounter, drawing the reader into a more problematized exploration of “feeling with” that anticipates debates in empathy studies today.

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Author details

HARROW, SUSAN