Emile Zola wrote the following in the preface of his first installment to the Rougon-Macquart series: "The characteristic of the Rougon-Macquart family, the group which I propose to study, is their unbridled passions, that great revolutionizing element of our age, inciting to excessive self-indulgence. Physiologically speaking, these appetites are the gradual outcome of certain nervous and sanguineous modifications which manifest themselves in a race of beings, as a consequence of some previous organic lesion, and which determine the sentiments, the desires, the passions of each individual of the race according to his surroundings; in short, all those natural and instinctive manifestations of human nature, which, in their results, assume the conventional names of virtues and vices... This work, which will comprise several episodes, embodies in my mind the natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire. And the first episode, 'The Fortune of the Rougons,' may, for scientific purposes, be very aptly entitled 'The Origin.'" The monumental work of Zola's magnum opus begins here in this volume which is drawn from the unexpurgated 1886 translation of Henry Vizetelly.