Books at Brown, 
Volume XXVII (1979), pp. 79-81
Notes on the Collections


The Émile Zola Holdings in the Brown University Libraries

The publication in 1943 of my book Zola aux États-Unis (Vol. VIII the Brown University Studies) corresponded with a renewed interest in novelist throughout the Western World. During the 1940s, the University Library substantially augmented its collections with printed works by and about Zola. For a reasonable price it purchased the Le Blond edition in fifty-two volumes. Among other items, it acquired a valuable pamphlet, the essay on Édouard Manet which shows Zola as a courageous champion of a painter then ridiculed by the crowd and despised by most his fellow-artists. In the 1950s the Library subscribed to the Cahiers Naturalistes. This publication, which succeeded the Bulletin de la Société des Amis d' Émile Zola founded in 1922, a scarce item in our possession, reflects constant interest in Zola as manifested by the growing number of biographical and critical works on the novelist. In the 1960s the Library has consistently although selectively increased its collections on Zola and Naturalism, from Henri Mitterand's masterful edition of the Rougon-Macquart series, in the Pléiade edition, to the recent Oeuvres Complétes in fifteen volumes, also edited by Mitterand, the foremost Zola scholar in these times.

As regards autographs, the Library acquired in 1953 a collection of seventy-eight letters, cards, and telegrams, written by Zola to his fellow-writer and friend Henry Céard. This collection, edited and annotated by me, was published by the Brown University Press in 1959 under the title Lettres inédites à Henry Céard. Some months later, twenty-two additional messages to Céard were discovered by Mitterand among papers which belonged to the Zola family. Mitterand sent me copies of these which I annotated for publication in the Cahiers Naturalistes. These letters in the form a small book were published by the Brown University Press in 196l.

Since that time, a number of letters to various correspondents have been purchased, most of which have appeared with annotations in the Cahiers Naturalistes. These acquisitions have brought the University's collections of autograph letters by Zola to a total of 159 items, to our knowledge a greater number than is owned by any other university in the United States. Some of these messages have enabled the editors to correct serious mistakes which were due to hasty and faulty previous transcriptions. In one particular case, an important letter addressed by Zola to the literary critic Jules Lemaitre, dated March 14, 1885, a whole introductory paragraph had been omitted and was lacking in earlier editions. Furthermore, in the middle of the letter, a thirty-word sentence was missing, as well as the whole ending which totaled fifty-six words. In another instance, a postcard mailed from Valenciennes has enabled historians to determine precisely how long a time Zola had spent near the coal-mines of Anzin where he collected documentation for his novel Germinal. While Matthew Josephson made it "the best part of several months," and more skeptical biographers three weeks, Zola's stay there was only of ten days' duration.

The Program of Research and Studies on Émile Zola and Naturalism, which was founded at the University of Toronto in 1971 by Pierre Robert, then chairman of the Department of French, and Henri Mitterand, has undertaken the publication of the complete Zola Correspondence which at this time numbers more than 3,000 letters and other messages. This project has been recognized and subsidized by the Canadian Council of the Arts and the French Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. A contract with the University of Montreal Press stipulates a definite calendar for the publication of ten volumes from 1978 to 1990. The first volume which covers the years 1858-1867, under the editorship of Bard H. Bakker, of York University, and Colette Becker, of the University of Paris, appeared in November, 1978, and is now in our stacks. The second volume, covering the years 1868-1877, under the same editorship, will appear in 1980. Responsibility for the annotations of the third volume (June, 1877-May, 1880) will be assumed by me and Alain Pagès, of the University of Paris.

In the spring of 1978, a microfilm of the collection numbering more than 5,000 letters, addressed to Zola and kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, was acquired by the Rockefeller Library. It has been and will be of great service in the task of annotating the third volume of Zola's Correspondence, scheduled to appear in the fall of 1981, as well as an important source of information for further research.

ALBERT J. SALVAN
Adjunct Professor of French Studies


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