Zola and the Serial Killer: Robert Black and La Bête Humaine

Adam Lynes, David Wilson, Craig Jackson


Abstract: This article presents a critical analysis of Emile Zola’s Le Bête Humaine – a critical analysis which forms the basis of a case study of the real-life, British serial killer Robert Black. The fictional character of Jacques Lantier, a train driver living in France in the late 19th century, who is plagued by thoughts of committing murder is compared to Black - a former PDS van driver - who has been convicted of murdering four young girls between 1981 and 1986. The article explores Zola’s comments and warnings about the relationship between civilisation and the ever-advancing technology that it creates in order to better the human species or, as is the case of Lantier and Black, for the worse.


Serial Killer, Modernity, Travelling, Emile Zola, Robert Black, Occupational Choice

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN: 1929-4409