Item description for Germinal (Pocket Classics) by Emile Zola...
Zola's masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola's death in 1902 it had come to symbolize the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted "Germinal! Germinal!" While it is a dramatic novel of working life and everyday relationships, Germinal is also a complex novel of ideas, given fresh vigor and power in this new translation. It is also the thirteenth book in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, which celebrates its centenary in October 1993 with a new film version of Germinal starring Gerard Depardieu.
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Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years.
Robin Buss is a writer and translator who works for theIndependent on Sunday and as television critic for The Times Educational Supplement. He studied at the University of Paris, where he took a degree and a doctorate in French literature. He is part-author of the article 'French Literature' in Encyclopaedia Britannica and has published critical studies of works by Vigny and Cocteau, and three books on European cinema, The French Through Their Films (1988), Italian Films (1989) and French Film Noir (1994). He has also translated a number of volumes for Penguin Classics.
Emile Zola was born in 1840 and died in 1902.
Emile Zola has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Germinal (Pocket Classics)?
Utterly fantastic.... May 13, 2008
Others have already been more eloquent in their descriptions of this novel than I have time to transcribe here from my neural attic. I happened across this book at a church fair and had (somehow) heard of the name Zola. I have frequently traveled to France and after brief scan of some of the pages, noting the French names, decided to shell over the 50 cents for it. I started reading and was impressed by the deep descriptive abilities Zola had at his disposal; describing Etienne's initial perusal of the maw of the coal mine in the early hours of the morning with the inclusion of such descriptions as to how he shifted some of his arm held belongings from arm to arm under his elbow uncomforably. I was hooked and read the whole thing in less than 5 hours in one afternoon after setting aside the time due to the impressive beginning I espied that night at the church where the lovely rapture began.
As usual, the characters more than make the story. Each person is important! What a breath of fresh air. Most authors shrink at such a daunting task; but Zola performs the trick as though he loved each human in the world so much that set out to find out everything about them. The delicious social interactions are interspersed with the young man "coming to age" with his philosophical ideas actually being forced to germinate and yield fruit (hence the title). His germination is only one of many you see in the story; and not every plant that germinates lives to bear fruit. Or even if it does, it may rot on the vine; the ending is not important. The possibility of changing what is, for the betterment of many is the ever sought after and seemingly unreachable goal....
I highly recommend this book. Enjoy! You'll find yourself wishing you could meet the people in this book. :)
Accurate: Captured the Spirit! May 10, 2007
This was my first read of Zola, an author who is FAR too unknown in the US. He captured, fully, the essence of a labor dispute. I've been around an industrial area my whole life, and have been through many strikes, plus have been the target of those who don't like you crossing their lines. Zola brought all this to life; he told it just as it really is. Incredible!
Germinal is a work of genius by Zola the master of literary naturalism Sep 27, 2006
Germinal was the name of a new month (Feb.-March) created by the leaders of the French Revolution. Zola's novel is given this title. The novel is set in the 1860s dealing with the brutal, harsh, amoral, poverty stricken, violent and cruel world of a French mining town whose name is "240. The main character of the novel is Etienne Lantier who is a member of a family featuring in several of Zola's novels in his Roquet-Macquart series dealing with two families charted by the brilliant novelist. During the novel the reader will become engrossed by the families who toil deep under the surface of the earth. The mine is a symbol of Moloch the rapacious idol who gorges itself on human flesh, lives and love. The novel is not for the prudish. In its many pages you will be exposed to sex in all its varieties; scatological language; several murders; genital mutilation; several horrible deaths and a strike. You will even see cruelty to animals written with such heartbreaking realism that you will cry over the deaths of the horses Trumpet and Battle and the rabbit Poland. You will meet various political and social theories from Marxism to nihilism expressed through the eloquent voices of the characters. You will be invited into the tragic home of the Maheu family and discover there the unforgettable character of La Maheu the indomitable earth mother and her suffering and prepubescent daughter who falls in love with the stranger Etienne. Catherine and her two lovers Chaval and Etienne are indelibly printed in the mind's eye of this reviewer. Miners trapped deep within the earth in a disaster instigated by the anarchist Souvarine lead to scenes which are horrific in their impact. Emile Zola was a reformer whose novel is a classic which is also a page turner. Each page bristles with his rage at injustice, cruelty and the clash between the classes in France. What would Zola have thought of the bloody twentieth century of revolution in Russia, two horrible world wars and now in our own century the hell of Middle Eastern warfare and terrorism.? Germinal reads as if it was written last week since it is alive with all the human emotions. It is one of the best books ever written and will always live. Vive la France! Vive Emile Zola!
Readers of the world, unite! Sep 11, 2006
Germinal is a damned good book. A page-turner. Engrossing. Illuminating, too. The proletariat/capitalist conflict is better portrayed here than in any other work of fiction I've come across. One gets a sense of the conditions--granting Zola a degree of literary embellishment--that led to trade unionism, socialism, communism, and anarchism. Zola sides with the workers, as you'd expect, but he is honest about his characters' motivations. They are presented as three-dimensional, not didactic dummies for Zola to ventriloquize through. Zola's characters are so fleshed-out, in fact, that the reader develops a rapport, an emotional investment, with them. Not all make it through the book alive and well, and this is another refreshing bit of truth from Zola. Life is full of calamity, pain, and senseless suffering, but it continues nevertheless. Zola presents this without typical Gallic pretension...a worthy achievement in and of itself. A definite classic.
From the Mines to Revolution-A Masterpiece Jun 21, 2006
As an aspiring author of regional fiction ("Suomalaiset: People of the Marsh" ISBN 0972005064)who was raised on liberal politics amidst the boom and bust of Minnesota's iron mines and timber industry, "Germinal's" featured protagonist, Etienne Lantier, strikes a chord with me. There is much about the American labor movement and the plight of American workers to be found in Etienne's story. Though conditions in our factories, mines, and in our forests have markedly improved since the days of children working the coal fields of West Virginia and the iron mines of the Mesabi Iron Range, Zola's prose and his social observations about wealth, capital, and the exploitation of the common man by those in power rings true in 21st century America. A beautifully translated work, succinctly direct, wonderfully cast, with prose that makes you sigh. One of my ten all time favorite novels.