Department of French Studies and Faculty of Arts and Science
University of Toronto
A Project of the Centre for 19th Century French Studies:
Editing a correspondence
By May, 2000, the students involved in this ROP project will present an annotated, critical edition of 187 letters from Ernest Alfred Vizetelly (1853-1922), an English editor and translator, to Emile Zola (1840-1902), French novelist, art critic, dramatist and journalist. The purpose of the course is twofold. The two-hour weekly seminars are divided into two sections, of which the first takes the form of a lecture on various social, literary and historical movements which characterized the "Belle Epoque" in France and the "Gay Nineties" in England. With this background in place, the students began to explore the principles of editing a correspondence (transcription, dating, establishment of texts, annotation, etc.). These two sections converse, as the students, each assigned a series of some 25-30 letters, present and edit the text, using the principles which they have learned in the seminars.
The letters stretch over an 11 year period, from 1891 until the novelist's death in 1902. They chronicle one of the most interesting periods in Zola's life, one in which he was hailed as an internationally known author, whose work was being translated into a dozen languages. Vizetelly, as his English-language translator, had the job of not only translating but of promoting and selling the works in England, in "the colonies" and in the United States. Over the years, the two men became friends as well as colleagues, and the letters are a mine of information on not only literary affairs, but on copyright law, on English and French society at the turn of the 20th century and, very importantly, on the Dreyfus Affair, which revolutionized France and at whose centre was Emile Zola.
Zola, defending Alfred Dreyfus and exposing the French military's cover-up with his open letter to the President of the French Republic "J'ACCUSE", was exiled to England in July 1898 where he stayed until June 1899. During the period of his exile, Vizetelly and his family were of assistance to Zola, who spoke not a word of English, in day-to-day affairs -- finding accommodation, shopping for food and other necessities and so forth.
The videos below illustrate the students discussing the effects of Information Technology on their ROP 299 Project. The first video consists of a class discussion and subsequent videos are conversations between paris of students.
Tous droits réservés.