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on 29 October 2013
According to the introduction, upon publication of `The Masterpiece', Zola sent a copy to his boyhood friend, Cezanne, who responded with a thank-you letter and then never spoke to Zola again. After reading it myself, I can kind of understand; if the protagonist, Claude Lantier, is based on Cezanne, (along with Manet apparently), then it seems to me to be a pretty unflattering portrait, not just of the artist, but of the `Open-Air', i.e. Impressionist, movement itself. Zola thought the movement had failed; failed to break the closed-shop of the French art-world, and failed to change art to something `more true'.

Lantier, the son of the protagonists from 'L'Assomoir', is a deeply flawed and tragic figure; he knows great art, he can see it at the end of his brush, but just can't get what's in his head onto the canvas. Even love, sex, family and friendship can't save him from himself.

The last 50 pages or so are pretty damn heavy, but anyone who looks to Zola for laughs and a happy ending is barking up the wrong author - try some Dickens.

Masterpiece? Oh yes.
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on 9 November 1998
A human need for perfection was never described better: The attempts, The difficulties, the pain of the soul and the boby... The specific plot relates to Art but it brings a massage that is true for every human creation that might become to one's absession. Reading this book takes the reader on an amazing journey that begins as fine arts and crosses the lines to a tragedy. A full CATARSIS. recommanded :)
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on 29 July 2015
Most depressing book ever. I got into it half way through, but wow, it should be in the guinness book of records. Don't read it if you are a struggling artist or you are depressed.
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on 18 January 2014
It is a very good translation from the French a great improvement on previous ones. Easily readable with a good introduction.
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on 11 April 2016
found the print too small
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on 17 July 2015
Very satisfied.
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on 23 January 2009
It is in itself a masterpiece . Although adequately translated here, it is a must read in the original tongue . Do not read this book if you are at all depressed, it goes from tragic to outright tragedy. You hope as you read this that the protagonist will ultimately find recognition, but this eludes him, even after death. Zola seems to be the Leonard Cohen of French literature.

The characters are particularly finely drawn; modern authors, please take note !
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on 5 December 2011
A sad tale of a flawed genius,and his subsequent descent into near madness.Several times while reading I toyed with the idea of closing the book for good, because at times I found the descriptions of colour,form,and shape etc of subjects extremely tedious .But my persistence in wading through the tedious parts had its own reward.Not a book for the faint hearted,or easily bored individual.3/5
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on 25 February 2013
Very successful present for someone who really likes this series of books. I will continue to purchase other books in this series.
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on 11 July 2005
With all my respect to Mr Zola, I found this book too depressing, it took me sometime to recover from all the sadness and even madness of this poor painter who struggled all his life, and his poor wife. It did put me off from reading other novels/stories about painters (I enjoy art a lot though). It makes you realise how much pain is behind some of those most enjoyable paintings you see in the museums, but after reading this book you do not want to know this...Another book though helped me recover from the Masterpiece, A year in the Merde by Steven Clark, it's just hillarious, strongly recommend.
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