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Cézanne’s passionate temperament, his outgoing ways, and his compassion for others, were welcomed by lonely Zola. Painting and literature were their favorite topics of discussion.

Stronger and older than Zola, Cézanne frequently intervened on his behalf when classmates derided and teased him. They frequently recited the verses of Lamartine, Vigny, Hugo, and Musset aloud, responding most fervently to the tender emotions expressed by these Romantic poets; with their lyricism and feelings of profound communion with nature.

Sensitive and solitary, the young Zola was chided by his peers.

They laughed at what they considered his Parisian accent, his lisp, his poverty, and his near-sightedness, his awkward ways.

His world, animated with laughter and hope for the future, spread optimism and joy around him.

Francesco Zola’s plans for the building of a dam in the southern part of France were approved, finally, in 1847.

He remained myopic as a consequence of the disease.

When the family moved to Aix-en-Provence from Paris in 1843, the fresh air and the long walks through the sun-filled valleys and mountains served to strengthen the young lad. His father’s death ended the carefree and happy days of childhood. Zola began a lawsuit to secure shareholders’ compensation for the losses incurred in the canal project. Zola was adamant about securing her son’s education.

From 1855 to 1857 he made up his mind to work assiduously. It was not Zola’s way, however, to indulge in despair.Unfortunately, on a spring day when he was working in one of the dam sights in Aix-en-Provence, an icy mistral wind came up from the gorges. Unwilling to care for such a slight indisposition, Francesco Zola left on business for Marseilles. By the time his wife arrived in Marseilles to care for him, pleurisy had set in. The love match that had been their marriage ended on March 27 with Francesco Zola’s death at the age of fifty-one. The young Emile, only seven at the time, and deeply attached to his father, felt the loss acutely.A rather sickly child, his father’s courage and positive attitude, coupled with his mother’s gentleness and inner strength, helped him survive an attack of “brain fever’ (possibly juvenile encephalitis) at the age of two.Not only was the family to suffer emotionally from the loss, but also economically for many years to come. The world of finance was to make inroads into Zola’s life at an early age. She invited her parents to move into smaller quarters with her, and to care for her home while she went out to do housework.The young Zola was enrolled as a day student at the Pension Notre-Dame, directed by Master Isoard; afterward he was sent as pensionnaire to the Collège Bourbon (College of Aix).

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