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The Peasantry

Excerpt from The Peasantry: And Pierre Grassou Few, I suppose, of the readers of "Les Paysans" (The Peasantry) in more recent years have read it without a more or less distinct mental comparison with the corresponding book in the Rougon-Macquart series. And I should hope that this comparative process has had, in the best minds, only one result. "Les Paysans" (which, by the way, is a very late book, partly posthumous, and is said, though not on positive authority, to have enjoyed the collaboration of Madame de Balzac) is not one of Balzac's best; but it is as far above "La Terre" (The Land) from every conceivable point of view, except that of Holy well Street, as a play of Shakespeare is above one of Monk Lewis. The comparison, indeed, exhibits something more than the difference of genius in Balzac and in M. Zola. It illustrates the difference of their methods. We know how not merely the Rougon-Macquart series in general, but "La Terre" in particular, was composed. M. Zola, who is a conscientious man, went down to a village (somewhere in the Beauce, if I recollect rightly), stayed some time, made his notes, and came back to Paris. There is nothing like the same great gulf fixed between the Londoner and the countryman in England as that which exists between the Parisian and the Provincial in France. But imagine an Englishman, not even English by race, from his youth up an inhabitant of great towns, attempting to delineate the English peasantry after a few week's stay in a Wiltshire village! About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
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