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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars zola shows how it should be done - again
people tend to liken zola to dickens for the way in which he took a broad view of society, spending as much, if not more, time exploring and documenting the life of the working class than any other writer i can think of. this comparison is kind on dickens.

there are no cartoon villains or two-dimensional virgin waifs in zola, just credible, fallible characters...
Published on 5 April 2010 by sophie leonard

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful translation of French classic
Very disappointed with this translation - in fact I'd go as far as to say that the translation does not do this book any favours at all. All the characters speak like they have - sort of - come out of the East End of London... Should have bought the Penguin Classic version in retro. They say you shouldn't judge a book by a cover but this one even features a brunette...
Published on 17 Oct. 2011 by Lizanne Jones


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars zola shows how it should be done - again, 5 April 2010
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
people tend to liken zola to dickens for the way in which he took a broad view of society, spending as much, if not more, time exploring and documenting the life of the working class than any other writer i can think of. this comparison is kind on dickens.

there are no cartoon villains or two-dimensional virgin waifs in zola, just credible, fallible characters who have a real reek of authenticity about them.

in l'assommoir zola documents the rise and fall of another member of the rougon-macquart clan, gervaise, who drags herself out of the gutter only to plunge back into it through by ill-chosen men and a displays of wealth designed to annoy her friends and family. the set-pieces involving gervaise's grand meals are spectacularly handled and oddly modern in the examination of politiking and display - anyone who has endured an excruciating dinner party or even christmas dinner with less than lovely inlaws will be nodding all the way through.

i don't want to give too much away but this is a book which does not disappoint. the translation - always a minefield with zola - is clear and concise and the dialogue especially gives a credible impression of the language and rhythm of working class speech.

if you have read nana already try this next and see her origins - if not order both as they are best appreciated together and do flow on.

five stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Demon Drink, 7 Oct. 2010
This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Paris - about the 1860s. Gervaise, a young laundress, is deserted by her drunkard lover Lantier and left with two children. Henceforth suspicious of men, she is finally won over by Coupeau, a roofer, because he doesn't drink. She opens a laundry business with money from another admirer, and things are going well. However, after a serious accident, Coupeau changes for the worst, starts boozing, and drags her down with him to an terrible alcoholic end. It all sounds like a total tale of misery, but there's something about Zola's marvellous style, his control of detail and naturalistic conversation, and his refusal - unlike any other mainstream C19th writer I've read - to self-censor the grubby and sexual aspects of life, that made it extraordinarily gripping. It brought home a sense of its era - the sheer heroism of poor people's struggle to stay respectable and to survive when one slip could cast you into the gutter - more clearly than any other similar novel I've come across. There are some amazing set-piece scenes too: a vastly long (but fascinating and truly French) description of a big meal, a fight between two women in a laundry, a visit by a wedding-party to the Louvre - and we get taken into many fascinating places of work as well as many wine-shops and bars, including the sinister L'Assommoir of the title. Why did no-one tell me before how good Zola is? And apparently there's acres of his stuff about...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthy tale of a tragic downfall., 7 Mar. 2011
By 
Emile Zola reader "Gervaise" (Hants, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
In my opinion Zola is the least high-brow of the literary greats, he writes with insight and his compassion for the plight of the working classes of his time is evident. Zola has been compared to Dickens and although a great compliment to most writers, personally I think Zola is better because his style is simpler and more earthy - for a real shocker of a portrayal of drunkenness and incest, see Zola's 'The Earth'.

L'Assommoir (The Pot House) is a tragic tale of the working classes living in the slums of Paris and centres on the aspirations of the easy-going Gervaise who yearns to run her own laundry. Without resorting to romantic and maudlin tactics, Zola describes in graphic detail the descent of our would-be heroine - is she destined for a life of drunkenness, promiscuity, filth and poverty? Hardly cheerful reading but the book is not without humour and in its own way, just as riveting as a modern thriller i.e. "what happens next?".

My own copy is from the 1970s and although the translation is good, I've found that newer copies of Zola's books have a much better colloquial translation and call a spade a spade which perhaps was not permitted in the early publications (the language in a particular scene in The Earth is quite course and in keeping with the characters). Zola's novels are absolutely brilliant, whether he is writing about the middle-classes and their scheming mistresses, incestuous siblings in village life or just the every day stifling poverty in the city, he gives us a good understanding of the people and period.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful translation of French classic, 17 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Very disappointed with this translation - in fact I'd go as far as to say that the translation does not do this book any favours at all. All the characters speak like they have - sort of - come out of the East End of London... Should have bought the Penguin Classic version in retro. They say you shouldn't judge a book by a cover but this one even features a brunette Gervaise!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Zola's most depressing?, 16 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Some people pay good money to listen to Leonard Cohen or Pink Floyd to get depressed. This is the literary equivalent.
Of course it's only a piece in Zola's literary jigsaw. Things lead up to it, and things derive from it, but it's the pits, probably.
What's really scary is that anything that happens here could have happened in Manchester or the Black Country at the same time.
Like all World's Classics, it's a good edition with good explanatory material; nice paper, nice binding and very good value.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!, 9 Nov. 2011
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Ra Baxter "douglas" (liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
My introduction to Zola was a second hand copy of Germinal,bought for 25 p.After reading it I thought "it doesnt get much better than this!"L Assommoir proved me wrong.The characters came alive on the pages,the story was engrossing,so much so, that for weeks afterward it stayed in my mind.Im now "hooked on Zola",having read 3 more of his novels in the past month...I wish Id found him sooner!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Never ending misery, not a patch on Germinal., 10 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Never ending misery,not a patch on Germinal.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Nov. 2014
By 
Janet Baker (GILLINGHAM, Kent, GB) - See all my reviews
This review is from: L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
great
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L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics)
L'Assommoir (Oxford World's Classics) by Émile Zola (Paperback - 29 Jan. 2009)
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