Célia VIEIRA; Inês GUERRA SANTOS
Instituto Universitário da Maia CITEI/CIAC
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Abstract: In this article, it is intended to reflect about the concept of celebrity, mainly in the end of the XIX century, departing from Émile Zola. In this context, the main goals are both the understanding of the construction of the concept “celebrity”, and how and if it may fit to a literary figure as Zola as a public person, based on the analysis of a specific medium, the letter, as a means of communication situated between the public and private spheres. We propose to analyse a corpus of letters, available on the Eman platform, sent from the Ibero-American area to Zola at the end of the 19th century. This corpus does not constitute a uniform object of analysis, given the diversity of letter writers who take the liberty of writing to Zola during this period when the novelist and his work are already well known and had been the target of numerous polemics on art and literature in the decade preceding the writing of these texts. From a theoretical point of view, we place ourselves in the perspective of studies concerning the history and culture of celebrity, as well as studies concerning comparative literature. In the light of these achievements, we will seek to study this corpus as an expression of an audience that reflects the image of Zola as a public figure and, at the same time, achieves a literary and cultural self-reflection. The methodologies used will be a qualitative analysis applied to the content of the letters, in order to show that, although correspondence have traditionally been allocated a secondary status, in fact the correspondence method, as a primary data-gathering technique, may present unique advantages circumventing the embarrassment that participants may face otherwise.
Keywords: Celebrity studies, Zola, Content analysis, Letter.
Citation suggestion: VIeira, Célia; Guerra Santos, Inês . “The Public and the Private on the Construction of a Celebrity:
The Case of Émile Zola”. Transilvania, no. 6 (2021): 60-64. https://doi.org/10.51391/trva.2021.06.07.