Émile Zola

Jean Gourdon's Four Days

Jean Gourdon's Four Days is a short novel by French author Émile Zola.

Jean Gourdon's Four Days deserves to rank among the very best things to which Zola has signed his name. It is a study of four typical days in the life of a Proven al peasant of the better sort, told by the man himself...

In the first of the days, it is Spring and Jean Gourdon is eighteen years of age, just to steals away from the house so he may meet his coy sweetheart Babet by the waters of the broad river Durance...

Then follows a day during Summer, five years later. Jean is a soldier in the Italian war, and goes through the horrors of a battle and is wounded. This episode is exceedingly ingenious in its observation of the sentiments of a common man under fire...

The Autumn day of the story occurs fifteen years later. Jean and Babet have now long been married. They are rich, healthy and devoted to one another, but there is a single happiness lacking - they have no child. But maybe now, when the grapes are ripe, this gift also is to be theirs...

The optimistic tone has been so consistently preserved in the first three parts, that one must almost resent the tragedy of the Winter day. This is eighteen years later, on a winter's night and the river Durance rises...

Jean Gourdon's Four Days was originally published in 1874, as Les Quatre Journees de Jean Gourdon and was included in the collection of short fiction entitled Nouveaux Contes à Ninon. Translated by Francis J. Reynolds.

Audiobook read by Bruce Pirie, running time 1 hour, 52 min. Unabridged full version. Also available as E-Book: ePUB, 16,400 words, average reading time 1 hour, 20 min.

Émile Zola (1840-1902) was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'accuse. Zola was nominated for the first and second Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901 and 1902.
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