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Germinal (Penguin Classics)

Germinal (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Émile Zola , Roger Pearson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Considered by Andr Gide to be one of the ten greatest novels in the French language, Germinal is a brutal depiction of the poverty and wretchedness of a mining community in northern France under the second empire. At the centre of the novel is Etienne Lantier, a handsome 21 year-old mechanic, intelligent but with little education and a dangerous predisposition to murderous, alcoholic rage. Germinal tells the parallel story of Etienne's refusal to accept what he appears destined to become, and of the miners' difficult decision to strike in order to fight for a better standard of life.

About the Author

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.

Roger Pearson is professor of French at the University of Oxford. He is the author of critical works on Voltaire, Stendhal and Mallarmé and has translated Voltaire, Zola and Maupassant.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1260 KB
  • Print Length: 601 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Rev Ed edition (29 Jan 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002XHNN70
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strike another match... 13 Jan 2006
I read this (for pure pleasure) during my A-Levels and it was so literally unputdownable that I got told off countless times for reading it under the desk while I should have been concentrating on my Maths and Chemistry exam study. I think I ended up in tears with the school counsellor after I finished it. That's what a good book should do to even the most harded cynic.
The plot is quite simple and yet quite complex - Etienne (Stephen) Lantier is a character from the Rougon-Macquart family followed in the series' other books - particularly "L'Assomoir", which is a parallel book, "Nana", which follows the fortunes of his sister, and "La Bete Humaine", which is about his brother. After losing his job in Lille he travels to the mining district nearby in search of work, and falls in with the Maheu family. Fomenting a strike from the embers of an ongoing dispute, Lantier rouses the miners against the bourgeoisie, who, in Zola's characteristically even-handed style, also have their own point of view. To go any further into the plot would be to spoil a good story.
OK, so I read it in the Penguin translation rather than the original (I'd like to try though since I can read French better than I can speak, understand it spoken or write it), but a good translation should get underneath the skin of the author and bring the milieu alive, not only staying faithful to the original but evoking for English readers the sticky, grimy world of Montsou and Le Voreux. I am reading it in Polish translation as well, to see how it reads in a language which is better at capturing magic and mystery rather than the down-to-earth grittiness of English.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory reading and socially harrowing 9 Feb 2005
Some classic novels are worthy but a chore; others are great to study academically; fewer combine adept social commentary with genius literary ability and a compelling plot.
This book had a major impact on me when I read it as a teenager - a Realist novel read in my own time to contrast with the Romantic works of Flaubert which I was dealing with for A level. I then returned to it at University - but importantly have subsequently re-read it more than once for pleasure as well as confidently giving it as a present to friends with a ""great read" recommendation.
It is hard to believe that society has changed so much and that we are so ignorant of the massive poverty and social injustice which existed relatively recently in Europe. This epic novel, as with many of Zola's novels, takes you into the startling detail of life in industrial France - with wonderful characterisation, really moving human stories and exciting & distressing plot .
It really has everything - and it may well change your outlook on life . I wholeheartedly recommend this as one of the greats
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel of the 19th Century 11 May 2009
This is ?mile Zola's undisputed masterpiece in the Rougon-Macquart novel series. In each of the novels of this series Zola sketches in honest, human detail the life of the working class of 19th Century France; in Germinal, the center of attention is the mining industry of the far north.

The story describes the experience of an ex-machinist, Etienne Lantier (who appears as such in one of the other novels) in the Voreux and other mines around the town of Montsou, situated somewhat near Valenciennes. Starving and looking for a job in a period of industrial crisis, he is introduced to the reader as he arrives at the mine. Etienne soon manages to get a job there, and gets to know the great variety of characters that make up the local mining town. But his deep-felt social activism, combined with his somewhat higher education than the local miners, sets in motion a chain of events that changes both his life and that of the reader forever.

Zola's brilliant description of the reality of the struggle between classes and the effects, positive and negative, that zealous struggle for the improvement of the world can have on individual humans in dire straits is sure to haunt the reader for a long time. The author manages to describe both the miners, in their jealousy, pride, poverty and despair, as well as the local bourgeoisie in their misguidedness, personal issues and the pressures of capitalism with a deep understanding of the human psyche. The interactions between humans under pressure is described in powerful, terse dialogues and evocative passages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid book, splendid translation 8 Nov 2010
By Phil L
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I originally downloaded the free version from Project Gutenburg, but had to abandon it after one chapter, the 1894 Havelock Ellis translation felt awkward and the stunning imagery was getting stomped on by the dated sentence structure. I immediately bought the Roger Pearson (Penguin Classics) translation, and didn't look back. It flows so naturally and transparently that the full impact of Zola's work comes through unimpeded. The Kindle version has links on archaic or mining-specific terms to a glossary. A stunning novel, and feels strangely relevant today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Excellent translation and a great read
Published 13 days ago by Lisa Jacobi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very thought inspiring
Published 19 days ago by Debra Godfrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 21 days ago by Joe farrellv
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection!
This novel was part of my reading material for my degree and I approached it with dread. A novel set in a mining community did not fill me with pleasure! WOW - was I wrong! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Fiona
5.0 out of 5 stars great novel and the translation is really good
I was delighted with the readability of this translation other earlier versions seem more leaden. The story is grim (not one to choose for a light-hearted read) and keeps you... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ellie
5.0 out of 5 stars French realism at its height
Set in a rural mining community at the beginning of the industrial age, injustice, poverty and the perils of revolution are clear. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Patrick CT
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, unputdownable, totally engaging story and glimpse into...
This is a gritty and realistic journey into the past, looking at the many daily struggles of ordinary workers and their relationships with each other and their thoughts and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Redwolf
1.0 out of 5 stars The text is not searchable
This would be great if it had a searchable text and a table of contents that linked to the chapters. I only buy an expensive (£7. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Chris Petrie
5.0 out of 5 stars "Germinal " - penguin classic by Emile Zola
This french classic is well worth reading - Emile Zola was around in paris the same time as the impressionist artists of the time and they would all meet together to discuss life. Read more
Published 16 months ago by val newport
5.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Emile Zola
These books are a hidden treasure at a very reasonable price. Emile Zola first came to my notice after watching The Paradise . Read more
Published 19 months ago by avis waterman
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Now that God was dead, justice would be the means of human happiness, ushering in the age of equality and the brotherhood of man. &quote;
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But now, deep in the earth, the miner was waking from his slumber and germinating in the soil like a real seed; and one fine day people would see what was growing in the middle of these fields: yes, men, a whole army of men, would spring up from the earth, and justice would be restored. &quote;
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it’s always the same old story in the end: the men get drunk and the girls have a baby.’ &quote;
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