Can I read Emile Zola?

My English class is going to read the book Germinal by Emile Zola. I just found out Zola’s writings were on an edition of the Index, so my question is: Is this book still forbidden for me to read?

The Index of Forbidden Books is no longer maintained, but one should consider carefully the warnings it contained. One can read a book on the list if one has just cause to do so (e.g., such as for a literature class), but should use prudence and care in reading the book in question.

Emile Zola was a nineteenth-century journalist and novelist who was instrumental in defending Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish man who was falsely accused and falsely convicted of treason by France (cf. Dreyfus affair). Zola was also extremely anti-Catholic and anti-clerical, using his writing skills to lambaste the Church. This should be kept in mind when reading his work.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit