French novelist Emilé Zola (1840-1902) was born on this day in Paris. He founded the Naturalism movement in literature which was inspired by the importance of science and Darwin's theory of evolution.
"If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud," Zola said.
A friend to painter Paul Cézanne, Zola was influenced by the romantics and once observed, "I am little concerned with beauty or perfection. I don't care for the great centuries. All I care about is life, struggle, intensity."
With his sacred soul, Zola became a beacon for social reform. His highly-acclaimed Germinal (1885) explored the dismal labor conditions of the coal mines. "The artist is nothing without the gift," Zola claimed. "But the gift is nothing without the work."
In 1895, Zola's infamous involvement in the Dreyfus Affair was marked by his quest to free an innocent French Jewish army officer falsely accused of treason. The case provoked public protest and inspired Zola to send an impassioned letter to France's President Felix Faure. Each denouncing paragraph of the famous document began, "J'Accuse!"
"I have one passion only," he wrote, "for light--in the name of humanity which has born so much and which has a right to happiness."
Upon Zola's death, fellow novelist Anatole France praised him as a fighter for justice, "a moment's embodiment of humanity's conscience."
Cherish your sacred soul.