La Bête Humaine
    
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Against the backdrop of political and legal corruption in Second Empire France, La Bête Humaine (1890) contrasts the technological advancements of the Machine Age with the primitive and timeless human impulse to possess through killing and to kill through possession. The lives of two railwaymen on the Paris to Le Havre line are fatally entwined by their love for the same woman in this shocking account of brutal violence, greed, revenge and repression. In the wider cast of Zola’s characters, too, we see just how close to the surface of civilisation the beast within us lurks.
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