Note on Zola and heredity

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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6 Responses

  1. Jason Kuznicki says:

    “the slow succession of accidents pertaining to the nerves or the blood (either-or?) which befall a race after the first organic lesion, and according to environment, determine in each individual member of the line those feelings, desires, and passions”.

    Does he mean congenital syphilis?  I’d have to see the original, but “organic lesion” seems odd here otherwise, doesn’t it?Report

    • It’s in the introduction to La Fourtune des Rougon, which is here on Project Gutenberg. Zola’s idea strikes me as a strange concept. It doesn’t seem like he’s talking about syphilis because it manifests itself in such odd ways- the drunk, the nymphomaniac, the compulsive artist, the murderer- the common denominator seems to be compulsion, but the apple never falls from the tree, so environment seems to be important to Zola. But it’s not everything because the characters move from milieu to milieu and carry it with them.Report

  2. Christopher Carr says:

    “If liberals are people who recognize the strikes against the poor, should they recognize genetic strikes too?”

    I can see a few possible responses to this. One is to explain away genetic strikes as being not very significant – i.e. there is little difference between the 80th and the 20th percentile. Another is to encourage people to pursue various and unique interests to ensure that everybody has something different to offer.Report

    • Yeah, what strikes me about Zola is that it’s a fascinating line of inquiry, but it’s not like the science is very telling in his time- and possibly not much better in this time. I don’t know, off-hand, what sort of genetic factors come to play with vice, if any. And my wife, who deals with this issue for a living, isn’t much clearer.Report

  3. greginak says:

    “If liberals are people who recognize the strikes against the poor, should they recognize genetic strikes too?”

    Yeah but to what point. Of course genetics screws over some. But other then people with obvious birth defects we really can tell very well, for an individual, what was nature or nurture. Is the blockheaded person on line in front of you geneticly predisposed to be unable to use the damned self check out machine or just having a crappy day. Who knows? And even someone who got stuck with crappy genes can still do well at some things through good nurture.Report