Conspicuous among the writings which influenced the great changes witnessed by the world at the end of the eighteenth century were the 'Nouvelle Héloise,' the 'Contrat Social,' the 'Émile ou l'Éducation' of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. At the close of the nineteenth, the advent of the twentieth century, one finds three books, 'Fécondité,' 'Travail,' and 'Vérité,' the works of Émile Zola, Rousseau's foremost descendant. It is too soon by far to attempt to gauge the extent of the influence which these works may exercise; but, disseminated in French and in many other languages to the uttermost ends of the earth, they are works which will certainly have to be reckoned with in a social as well as a literary sense. The writings of Rousseau, violently assailed by some, enthusiastically praised by others, ended by leaving their mark on the world at large. Very few may read them nowadays, but in certain essential respects their spirit pervaded the nineteenth century, and their influence is not dead yet, for the influence which springs from the eternal truths of nature cannot die. As for the critics who will undoubtedly arise to dispute the likelihood of any great influence being exercised by the last writings of Émile Zola, I adjourn them to some twenty years hence. Rome was not built in a day, many long years elapsed before the spirit of Rousseau's writings became fully disseminated, and, although the world moves more quickly now than it did then, time remains a factor of the greatest importance.
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