Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.


Zola, Émile

Émile Zola

(French novelist, 1840–1902, founder of the school of “Naturalism.” The present is one of his later works, in which he indicates his hope of the regeneration of French society. The hero is a Catholic priest who first attempts to reform the Church, and then leaves it)

ALL boiled in the huge vat of Paris; the desires, the deeds of violence, the strivings of one and another man’s will, the whole nameless medley of the bitterest ferments, whence, in all purity, the wine of the future would at last flow.

Then Pierre became conscious of the prodigious work which went on in the depths of the vat, beneath all the impurity and waste. What mattered the stains, the egotism and greed of politicians, if humanity were still on the march, ever slowly and stubbornly stepping forward! What mattered, too, that corrupt and emasculate bourgeoisie, nowadays as moribund as the aristocracy, whose place it took, if behind it there ever came the inexhaustible reserve of men who surged up from the masses of the country-side and the towns!… If in the depths of pestilential workshops and factories the slavery of ancient times subsisted in the wage-earning system, if men still died of want on their pallets like broken-down beasts of burden, it was nevertheless a fact that once already, on a memorable day of tempest, Liberty sprang forth from the vat to wing her flight throughout the world. And why in her turn should not Justice spring from it, proceeding from those troubled elements, freeing herself from all dross, ascending with dazzling splendor and regenerating the nations?