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Germinal (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 18 Jun 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (18 Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192837028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192837028
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.8 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,341,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Superb."--Professor James Chastain, Ohio University"This is far and away the best English translation of Germinal currently available. The translator has captured the nineteenth century flavor of the original without sacrificing clarity or meaning. The introduction and notes are excellent and the map of Montsou and vicinity is a stroke of genius."--Professor Richard Cumming, University of Utah

About the Author

?mile Zola was a French writer who is recognized as an exemplar of literary naturalism and for his contributions to the development of theatrical naturalism. Zola s best-known literary works include the twenty-volume Les Rougon-Macquart, an epic work that examined the influences of violence, alcohol and prostitution on French society through the experiences of two families, the Rougons and the Macquarts. Other remarkable works by Zola include Contes ? Ninon, Les Myst?res de Marseille, and Th?r?se Raquin.

In addition to his literary contributions, Zola played a key role in the Dreyfus Affair of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. His newspaper article J Accuse accused the highest levels of the French military and government of obstruction of justice and anti-semitism, for which he was convicted of libel in 1898. After a brief period of exile in England, Zola returned to France where he died in 1902. ?mile Zola is buried in the Panth?on alongside other esteemed literary figures Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.

Peter Collier is the author (with David Horowitz) of "The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty", which was nominated for the National Book Award, as well as "The Kennedys: An American Drama", "The Roosevelts: An American Saga", and other books. He lives in Nevada City, CA.

Margaret Mauldon has previously translated Zola, L'Assommoir, Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma, Huysmans, Against Nature (winner of the 1999 Scott Moncrieff prize) and Constant, Adolphe for OWC. Robert Lethbridge has edited Zola's L'Assommoir and La Debacle for OWC and has written several books
on Maupassant and Zola.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read this when I was about 12 years old (in an English translation, I hasten to add) as I had run out of reading matter and came across this book in my grandfather's study.

I am now 62 years of age, but have never forgotten the initial impact this made on me. Somehow Zola's writing is so descriptive and evocative that one feels that one is really there in the suffering and squalor along with the characters. The suffering and social deprivation of those times is quite unbelievable as we look back over 150 years.

I do not know who translated that edition but I have read it in the original French since, where it is even more


If you haven't read it, please do, you'll be glad you did and, as someone else wrote in review, it could even change your life or, at the very least give you much pause for thought.
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By A Customer on 16 Nov. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book on one of the Open University literature courses. It tells a harrowing tale of life in a mining community as the workers gradually starve and are forced into desperate measures for their survival when a new worker, Etienne Lantier, arrives and eventually masterminds a strike against the worsening working conditions endured underground, and the devious new pay structure. The backbreaking working life of the miners is accurately and chillingly portrayed, (you'll never want to go in a lift again!) contrasted with a backdrop of sexual permissiveness in the community. There are echoes of Mrs. Gaskell and 'Love on the Dole'. In all, a chilling evocation of the workers' hellish existence, and familial ties, in nineteenth cnetury France.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, it's important to say that Zola is one of my favourite Authors, and someone that should be read by a lot more (English speaking) people. As with all foreign authors, a good translation is necessary. Unfortunately, this isn't it. You really can't afford to read a book this length in this poor a rendering, not least as you'll have to re-read section after section just to understand what's going on.

A far better translation is given by Roger Pearson, who's generally reliable when it comes to Zola:
Germinal (Penguin Classics)

Don't put yourself through unnecessary pain! Read this book in a recognisable form of English - if this translation was your only experience of Zola you'd be left wondering why he's generally regarded as one of the finest writers ever.
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I bought this book as part of my Open Uni English Literature degree as it was one of the set books on their 19th Century literature module. I'd never heard of Zola before so I started reading the book with no prior knowledge of him and very little knowledge of the subject matter - the poverty and class divide in 19th C France among the rural mining community. Now that doesn't sound like a page turner at all, but I was soon completely immersed in Zola's world and could not stop reading to find out what happens. It's a translation from French but it seems to have been translated really well so the language is still evocative and emotional. The absolute abject poverty described herein is something that will stay with me a long, long time. Themes covered are family, community, comradeship and cameraderie, the haves and have-nots, revolution and rebirth. Zola narrates the story from a variety of perspectives and at one point the story is even narrated by Bataille, the mine's over-worked horse! Sounds bonkers but it works. This is a book that will stay with me for ever actually, and no doubt I will read it again one day. Highly recommended.
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If it hadn't been part of my Open University syllabus, I might never have got round to reading this visceral account of a mining community and its struggle for justice and liberation in post-revolutionary France. I had read three of Zola's novels, and pretty harrowing they were too - as was this, what many consider to be his masterpiece. It made me appreciate, albeit dimly, the back-breaking work of my father, a miner in mid-twentieth-century England; whether conditions were quite as unforgiving as they are portrayed here I'll never know, since he's been dead a long time, but the desperation of a community that refuses to be crushed even as the literal and figurative mines collapse on them is palpable, and certainly made me count my blessings in my modest but comfortable abode. The account of the moral decay and regression that extreme, unremitting poverty can foster is unflinching - a few incidents described here are truly atrocious; and the jury's still out on Zola's own moral standpoint and just what he means to achieve with his "naturalist" method (in fact I'm doing as assignment on it as we speak). Character certainly gives way to events in this as in other writings of Zola, and perhaps that is the greatest lesson of his work: that even the best of us, like the idealist Etienne and the loyal-hearted Catherine, could be driven to unspeakable degradation if pushed too far. It should be required reading for anyone aspiring to a career in 'public service', the euphemism for politicians on the make. The translation is a lively one, though it contains a few suspiciously modern idioms - but still, they don't detract from the spirit of this relentless novel.
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