"Truth" is loosely based on Zola's own experiences in the Dreyfus affair, in that it highlights anti-Semitism in [the then] modern French society. The first three quarters of this large book is about anti-Semitism and the Catholic Church's influence in France at the time. It's hard not to walk away from the book with a clear image of Zola's own personal views of religion and education. The book centers around Marc and his desire to see secularism triumph against the evils of religion. The last quarter of the book displays Marc's (aka Zola's) wishes. While these 150 pages are entirely unnecessary for the book, they shed quite a bit of light on Zola's own wishful thinking. He takes the reader years into the unnamed future and rough estimates suggest it ends well into the early 20th century. Zola's desire to name the future he'd like is clear: he declares that the legislature "finally" voted for a complete separation of church and state, decades into the book. The translator then notes that this is indeed Zola's wishful thinking, for as of the translation (1902-3), such laws have not yet passed though the translator adds that it "has never appeared more likely than it does now". Zola doesn't leave it at that and goes further:
Why did he speak of the Jews? Anti-Semitism was dead--to such a degree, indeed, that the new generation failed to understand what was meant when people accused the Jews of every crime. [p. 542]On the one hand, reading Zola's thoughts at the time are enlightening. Aside from his blatant political views, his Dreyfus style ideals are showcased in the form of his mirror character, Marc. Yet by setting to print what he hoped would occur, Zola ultimately serves rather as dystopian books do: the truth to his words casts an ugly light on what readers know actually occurred around the time the book ends. In the end, even wishful thinking and Utopia bring the modern reader the gloom of a dystopia novel.
That once filthy print had been quite transformed by the new spirit, which had raised its readers both morally and intellectually. ... The Press will, indeed, become a most admirable instrument of education when it is no longer, as now, in the hands of political and financial bandits, bent on debasing and plundering their readers. [p. 564]