Australian Journal of French Studies

Forms of Building, Forms of Living: Viollet-Le-Duc’s Entretiens sur l’architecture and Zola’s Pot-Bouille

Australian Journal of French Studies (2021), 58, (3), 248–261.

Abstract

This article examines the historical and theoretical connections between architect Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc (1815-1879) and Émile Zola (1840-1902). By analyzing the ways in which Viollet-Le-Duc’s theory on domestic architecture in his Entretiens sur l’architecture (1863-1872) resonates in Zola’s Pot-Bouille (1882), this study illustrates how Zola’s text depicts the correlation between architectural form and ways of living. In light of the work of Viollet-Le-Duc, the particular characteristics of domestic architecture in Pot-Bouille are imagined to mould the personalities of the inhabitants, thereby shaping their domestic values. First, the ways in which Viollet-Le-Duc’s theory overlaps with naturalism are introduced. Then Zola’s own interest in architecture and his knowledge of Viollet-Le-Duc are documented. Finally, the article argues that, in Pot-Bouille, domestic architecture has an influence on the characters’ domestic lives and that a study of Entretiens provides a better cultural understanding of Pot-Bouille and the ways in which architecture was imagined to impact on people’s personalities.

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Author details

MARTI, AINA

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