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Lassommoir [French] [Hardcover]

Emile Zola
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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  • Hardcover
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2709608235
  • ISBN-13: 978-2709608237
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The books of Emile Zola were recommended to me by a friend so I decided to try this one. It exceeded all of my expectations; I was prepared for a difficult, laborious read and instead found myself instantly engrossed. I find it incredible that a book written over 125 years ago could be so enjoyable today. I don't often read classic literature, finding it sometimes to be a struggle, but can honestly say that this entire book was a pleasure to read (even if some of the scenes were unbelievably disturbing).
The book ultimately recounts the life of Gervaise, a young French woman. We see her climb high and achieve happiness and success, but then witness the downwards spiral of her destruction. But the book isn't solely about Gervaise, as Zola introduces many other characters, whose traits all juxtapose with one another, creating a melting pot of comedy, drama and tension. He also depicts the most dreadful scenes of poverty and hardship, scenes that are almost unbelievable to imagine living in the luxury of the 21st Century. Zola's talent in slowly building up characters and plot make the book the success it is; he takes his time to describe scenes, for example he spends the whole of Chapter 7 describing Gervaise's great feast. But these lengthy scenes don't hinder the novel in the slightest, instead they give the reader time to slowly and gradually absorb all of the details. I felt as though I had stepped into the pages of this book.
Overall a remarkable piece of writing. This will certainly not be my last novel by Zola.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best classic novel! 17 Aug 2005
By A Customer
I studied this book for part of my English Literature dissertation and can safely say it is the best piece of literature I have ever encountered, on or off my university course. Once I managed to pry it away from myself long enough to write a review, I found it nearly impossible to find the right words to give this book the justice it deserves.
Zola chose to defy the modesty and restraint exercised by many authors in the nineteenth-century, and instead exposed the harrowing lifestyles and troubled relationships of working class Paris. He focused on the immense hardships the poor struggled to overcome and brought to light the harsh realities of the lower classes in their daily struggle to survive. He accurately portrays nineteenth-century working class Paris, combining sorrow, misery, anguish, desperation and despair to produce one of the finest, most descriptive and most moving texts the period can boast.
Zola's frank, yet touching manner of expressing himself without glorifying any details ensured the text was given my full attention from start to finish. I found the base treatment of women and the crude behaviour and beliefs of certain characters deliciously shocking, and this was in the year 2005! I couldn't help but wonder how reading audiences reacted to it in 1877 and found myself compelled to research this text as part of my university studies and learn more about it.
I haven't yet discovered a book that has generated so much power and feeling, having summarised my own thoughts of this book and having read through other reviews of it. It is so much more intense and heart-felt than many modern texts. I have since ordered Nana and am keen to experience more of Zola's works; fortunately there are plenty more of them to keep me satisfied! If they are anything like L'Assommoir, then I know I won't be disappointed.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is probably Zola's greatest work combining his overpowering skill as a descriptive author alongside the empathy for his characters that he inspires. In L'Assommoir, Zola achives an intricate portrayal of Parisian life in the nineteenth century through the intentions and thoughts of his characters without getting swamped in overworked plot or character description. This work is a masterpiece of human thought and feeling which I highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great translation of a great book 21 July 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the important points made in the translator's foreword of this edition (which I once owned and stupidly lent, never to be returned) is that Zola actually wrote this novel in a coarse form of contemporary French, which was almost like Parisian street slang at times. Tancock carries this over in this translation, and in doing so provides a much more powerful experience for the reader than other versions I have read. It's not dainty, or toned down, but is much more raw and real, and more formally satisfying, because of it. You can smell the squalour in this version, but because of the brusqueness of the language, it has a slight humourous edge as well, which can offset some of the darker moments, and prevent it from becoming overly maudlin - a failing of some other translations, which tend to overplay the pathos. So if you really want to experience the raw power of this novel, try to get this translation.

The story itself is a deeply moving and also shocking one, all the more so for being laced through with a faint thread of hope, at least until the later stages. Although personally, I think this not Zola's greatest work (I would rate 'Germinal' higher, and I think 'La Debacle' may be more compelling a ride, and more horrific), for me Gervaise is his best-drawn character, by a mile. The first time I finished this book I remember finding myself, the following morning, looking in a local newspaper, and on the teletext (this was before the internet) for more news about Gervaise. The ending-so brutal, so shocking, and so dispassionately written, like a lens pulling away from its subject-had affected me that deeply. I remember being outraged, and experiencing a kind of mourning for this woman who, despite her failings, you couldn't help but sympathise with. As other reviewers have said, once read this story will stay with you forever.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel you will ever read
Describing this book as a masterpiece would not be an exaggeration in the slightest. My favourite book of all time. Read it and tell your friends!
Published 9 months ago by Mim
5.0 out of 5 stars crushed and ground - for so long - under the heel of fate
There are few novels as bleak and unrelenting as this one, at least in my reading experience. Over 500 pages, you witness the aspirations and grotesque decline of a working-class... Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2011 by rob crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece
If you've never read Zola, please take note of other reviewers who after reading one of his books have ordered another, even if not ordinarily given to reading 19th-century French... Read more
Published on 3 Nov 2009 by monica
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels of all time
I cannot go a year without re-reading this book - it is for me one of the very best ever written - despite the fact that it is a tragic book, and I generally prefer something... Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2009 by bookelephant
3.0 out of 5 stars L'Assommoir - a relentless read
Zola doesn't spare the reader. This account of a laundress' progress from relatively comfortable existence to grinding poverty is relentless, never letting up for a minute as the... Read more
Published on 2 July 2009 by Mr. T. Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and disturbing
This book is masterful. I defy anyone to read certain episodes in this book (the cruel death of little Lalie Bijard, and the sad decline of Per Bru to name but two) without being... Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2007 by Puskas
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story
The fact this was written in France over a hundred years ago takes absolutely nothing away from the understanding of the reader. Read more
Published on 17 Dec 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning
I could not put this book down. Following the life of 'banban' through the tradgedies and depravities of 18Century paris was absolutely captivating.
Published on 10 Aug 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela's Ashes - from 100 yrs ago !
If you liked the recent hit "ANGELA'S ASHES" by Frank McCourt, I urge you to try this book. Read more
Published on 11 Feb 1999
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