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Modern Languages and Literature

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This essay intends first to present the varied and contradictory positions held by Zola during his career in relation to the inevitable presence of the Other within his corpus. From his correspondence, articles, confessions to Edmond de Goncourt, answers given during psychological tests and the defense put forward to counter accusations of plagiarism, a complex position emerges regarding the nature of writing and the relationship of the writer to the Other. However, while in these texts the question of literary appropriation remains informed by ethical considerations, the same thematic in fictional works can be problematized differently. Using the example of Germinal, we will thus also bring to light the psychic dimension of literary appropriation, which is absent in non-fictional writings. Several members of the Maheu family will be shown to function as representatives of Zola who, through certain actions, allow us to suggest that literary appropriation is rooted in object relations and that the difficult relationship of the writer to the corpus of others, when viewed through the lens of Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical theories, is reminiscent of the difficult relationship of the newborn to the mother’s body.

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This article is in French. Cet article est en français.