Emile Zola was a French journalist turned novelist. His novels were attacked and even banned for their frankness and sordid detail, causing quite a bit of controversy in their day. In 1898 he incurred the wrath of officials when he published the open letter “J’Accuse,” in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, an Army officer who had been convicted of treason. Zola was sentenced to prison for libel, fled to England, and was granted amnesty a few months later. He died from carbon monoxide poisoning before Dreyfus was officially exonerated.