Zola’s Needleworkers: from Angélique in Le Rêve to the Grisettes

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This essay explores the figure of the embroiderer Angélique in Le Rêve in the context of Zola’s numerous other portraits of needleworkers. Zola models Angélique’s craft on outdated medieval techniques and neglects contemporary problems around working conditions and mechanisation in order to create the novel’s dream-like atmosphere. Qualities he associates with Angélique – virginity, dreaminess, redemption through work – extend an evolution that occurs in the figure of the needleworking grisette in his early fiction, who transforms between La Confession de Claude and “L’Amour sous les toits” from a dissolute prostitute to a figure of virtuous industry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Journal of French Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


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