On science and literature: A lesson from the Bernard-Zola case

Fiorenzo Conti, Silvana Irrera Conti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Life Sciences and literature have long been seen as disciplines at opposite ends of the spectrum of human creativity. However, even excluding science fiction, the former has often inspired or influenced the latter, and vice versa. One of the more interesting and controversial examples of this was the scientific activity of Claude Bernard (1813-1878) and the writings of Emile Zola (1840-1902). Here we suggest that, although Zola presumably harnessed the physiologist's prestige to lend scientific and topical dignity to his work, the reading of Bernard's work (particularly his Lemons de physiologie expérimentale appliquée à la médecine), in a historical period exceptionally favorable to science, may well have contributed to Zola's ideas and strengthened his genuine interest in science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-869
Number of pages5
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2003


  • Determinism
  • Experimentation
  • Naturalism
  • Novel
  • Scientific method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'On science and literature: A lesson from the Bernard-Zola case'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this