3 DECEMBER 1904, Page 13

Emile Zola, Novelist and Reformer : an Account of his

Life and Work. By Ernest Alfred Vizetelly. Illustrated. (John Lane. 21s. net.)—By an intimate knowledge and cordial admiration of his subject Mr. Vizetelly is well equipped for writing the Life of Zola. The pity is that he could not, for obvious reasons, write it in any spirit but that of a strong partisanship, which has the effect of making it even more disagreeable reading than need naturally be the case. Zola is finding his right place, we fancy, in the social and literary estimation of the world at large. Since the Dreyfus affair people have been ready to respect his courage and to believe in his honest intentions; and they do not suppose now that his very unpleasant realism was meant to do moral harm to his generation. It was not necessary for Mr. Vizetelly to heap angry words on those Bishops and other good men who thought it their duty to warn their flocks against Zola's novels. We take them now in England for what they mostly are, frightful pictures of horrible realities. Whatever the reforming intention may have been, even Zola's biographer does not flatter himself that the books have done much good. And it must seem evident to every reasonable being of normal mind that detailed pictures of vice and sin, even if more repulsive than seductive, are not of much use in the fight against evil. For the rest, we doubt whether this biography will raise Zola higher in the opinion of any world worth considering.