Le Struggle for life: Contesting Balzac through Darwin in Zola, Bourget, and Barrès

Social Darwinist themes feature in late nineteenth-century French ideological fiction from across the political spectrum. This article considers the evolutionary perspectives underpinning the traditionalist, anti-Republican ideology of the right-wing reactionary authors Maurice Barrès and Paul Bourget in Les Déracinés (1897) and L’Étape (1902) respectively. Their appropriation of evolutionary ideas in these texts may be seen as an attempt to wrest the mantle of scientific exclusivity away from both the secular and democratic political establishment of the Third Republic and the literary naturalists led by Émile Zola. It may also, however, be seen as a means by which they assert their claim to be recognized as the true inheritors of the political, scientific and literary legacy of Honoré de Balzac. (LL)

Lyle, Louise.
Volume 2008 spring-summer; 36.3-4: 305-19.