The Anarchic Commune as World’s Fair in Émile Zola’s Travail

Though Émile Zola’s æsthetic shift from naturalism to utopianism began well before the writing of Travail in 1900, Moissan’s electric ovens displayed during the Parisian World’s Fair of the same year served as a technological solution to the entropic conundrum that had informed his earlier novels. Electricity thus reconfigured allowed the functioning of Beauclair, Travail’s anarchic commune, as a utopia. The utopian mode, however, is undermined by a passive subjective relationship to the real inherent in visitors’ experiences during the Exposition Universelle and by capitalist fantasies of mass consumption underlying the World’s Fair and the anarchic commune of Travail. (EAF)

Febles, Eduardo A.
Volume 2008 Spring-Summer; 36(3-4): 286-304.