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Émile Zola was born in Paris to an Italian father and a French mother and spent his youth in Aix-en-Provence. As a young man, he experienced severe poverty before getting jobs as a clerk in a shipping firm and in the sales department for the publishing company Hachette. To supplement his income, he became a literary reviewer, art critic, and political journalist for newspapers, and also wrote fiction. He published his first novel in 1865, and went on to become the best-known novelist of the naturalist movement with works such as Thérèse Raquin (1867), Nana (1880) and Germinal (1885) among many others. He also became a prominent figure in French public life. His schoolfellow Paul Cézanne introduced him to Impressionist artists; later, Zola's home became a gathering place for friends and writers such as Guy de Maupassant, Gustave Flaubert, Edmond Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet, and Ivan Turgenev. In 1898, Zola risked his reputation and even his life to intervene in the case of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, falsely convicted of treason, with an open letter to the President of France, "J'Accuse," published in the Paris daily L'Aurore. As a result, Zola himself was prosecuted for libel and found guilty. The following year, when his appeal seemed certain to fail, he fled to England. Eventually, his efforts helped secure a reversal of the original verdict on Capt. Dreyfus, and exposed anti-Semitism and rampant militarism in France. He died at home in Paris of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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