Naturalism Redressed
Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Emile Zola

Hannah Thompson

Legenda (General Series)


1 April 2004  •  198pp

ISBN: 1-900755-82-3 (paperback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €85


References to clothing in the nineteenth-century naturalist novel have traditionally been read merely as examples of descriptive detail. Thompson, in her groundbreaking study on Zola, rescues clothing from the margins of representation, and draws on a wide range of twentieth-century feminist and queer theory to demonstrate that clothing troubles such binary pairs as 'masculine' and 'feminine', 'normal' and 'perverse', 'natural' and 'artificial' that lie at the foundations of Zolian naturalism. The author's investment in the signifying power of clothing in the Rougon-Macquart is such that the novels can no longer be read as unproblematic illustrations of literary naturalism; in fact its intensity demands that Zola's relationship to literature and his descriptions of Second Empire society be reassessed.

Dr Hannah Thompson is a reserach fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge. She has also written on Rachilde and late nineteenth-century war fiction.


  • ‘A cogently presented argument with carefully selected textual support... Hannah Thompson's thought-provoking monograph is an example of the richness of the new approaches to which the Zolian oeuvre lends itself.’ — Barbara M. Stone, New Zealand Journal of French Studies 27.1, 2006, 50-51
  • ‘Thompson's well-documented and convincing analyses make an important contribution to the ongoing demystification of Zola as a "Naturalist" novelist as well as to a critical re-examination of the implications of Naturalism in and for the novel... An entertaining and worthwhile read for anyone interested in Zola studies, Naturalism, or cultural history.’ — Laurey Martin-Berg, French Review 80.4, 2007, 918-19
  • ‘This book is valuable for its detailed analysis of the significance of clothing in Zola, and even more so for its challenging insights about naturalism as textual practice.’ — Larry Duffy, Modern Language Review 101.4, October 2006, 1132-33 (full text online)
  • ‘Thompson's study rightly highlights the transgressive nature of power and desire present in many of the novels and offers sustained and convincing readings, further enriching our continuing awareness of the multilayered character of the naturalist text, which Zola himself sought to portray in his theoretical writings as scientific and unproblematic.’ — Sarah Capitanio, French Studies 60.4, 2006, 529-30
  • ‘Naturalism Redressed provides a refreshing perspective for Zola studies, and will therefore interest any scholar seeking to deepen his or her understanding of a wide variety of topics in Zola’s novels ranging from feminist issues, the body, sexuality, and the role of material culture in this author’s oeuvre.’ — Kathryn A. Haklin, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 42.3-4, Summer 2014

Bibliography entry:

Thompson, Hannah, Naturalism Redressed: Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Emile Zola (Cambridge: Legenda, 2004)

First footnote reference: 35 Hannah Thompson, Naturalism Redressed: Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Emile Zola (Cambridge: Legenda, 2004), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Thompson, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Thompson, Hannah. 2004. Naturalism Redressed: Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Emile Zola (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Thompson 2004: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Thompson 2004: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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