Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Soleiade (sal-ayd). Aix-en-Provence residence of Doctor Pascal, located about fifteen minutes by foot from the Cathedral of St. Sauveur, and the center of the town’s diverse social life. The novel’s descriptions of the home are filled with the warm contrasts between shadows and light, stone and vegetation, so characteristic of the private lives of its occupants. More important than the interior, usually closed off from the sun, is Soleiade’s terraces and balconies overlooking the garden, where Pascal and his niece Clotilde spend a good part of their time.


*Aix-Plassans (aks-plah-SANZ). Quarter of Aix-en-Provence in which Pascal lives; it looks out on the beginnings of the countryside, which offers Pascal and Clotilde a refuge from daily social contacts during their frequent strolls. The soft valley of Plassans seems timeless, shaded by century-old cypress trees. As the region opens onto the countryside, the yellowness of its dusty soil recalls again the contrasts between shade and light. As for Aix-Plassans itself, Émile Zola probably chose this quarter because of his own father’s association with it, as an architect and builder of a prominent town fountain.

*La Viorne

*La Viorne (vjorn). Stream running through Aix-Plassans that is visible from the outer terrace of Doctor Pascal’s residence. Its shaded banks seem to draw the viewer’s attention away...

(The entire section is 578 words.)