Doctor Pascal Rougon, a medical man at Plassans
and a distinguished student of heredity, had brought up his niece Clotilde
(daughter of Aristide Rougon alias Saccard) from childhood. Years afterwards
they found that they passionately loved one another... His mother, Félicité
Rougon, who feared that his researches on heredity might bring scandal
on the family, burned all his papers, and in one hour destroyed the work
of a lifetime... A child was born to Clotilde, a child which Pascal intensely
desired, in the hope that through it might come the regeneration and rejuvenation
of his race...
The story in the book is both simple and sad.
(J. G. Patterson)
Pascal's works on the members of his family is, in small, what I have
attempted to do on humanity, to show all so that all may be cured. It
is not a book which, like La Débacle (The Downfall), will stir the passions of the mob.
It is a scientific work, the logical deduction and conclusion of all my
preceding novels, and at the same time it is my speech in defence of all
that I have done before the court of public opinion.
More info about the Rougon-Macquart series at Wikipedia.