Emile Zola is normally identified with his ideology of naturalism, which implies the ambition to make literary art scientific, by following the example of experimental medicine (Claude Bernard). Currently, it is either neglected or ignored that Zola, duri ng the 1890's until his death in 1902, was also influenced by the philosophy of vitalism of the same period, a philosophy that took two directions: one "spiritualistic" (Bergson), the other "materialistic" (Nietzsche). The objective of the project is to s how how both these directions of the vitalistic thought are present in Zola's last novels, labelled under the common title "Les Quatre Évangiles" (of which only two were accomplished: "Fécondité" and "Travail").
Very few studies have already been done in this field, so I can be sure to be in connection with the most eminent specialists of Zola's last years and of the history of ideas of 19th century France. The project's ambition is to contribute to modify the dominating image of Zola both as a writer an d as an ideologue, in particular by analyzing his vitalistic idealism, and his use of the novel as a medium for propaganda.