Pot Luck (Pot-Bouille) (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 21 Jan 1999
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Brian Nelson is Professor of French and Head of the Department of Romance Languages at Monash University, Melbourne. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Read before the inevitable BBC Sunday Afternoon serial!
The translator tells us that the French title 'Pot-Bouille' is virtually untranslatable. He has opted for the English 'Pot Luck', but 'Melting Pot' would serve just as well.
The novel centres on the lives of the inhabitants, masters and servants, of an apartment building in late 19th century Paris. The masters living lives of genteel poverty, with no moral values; greedy and grasping, condoning sexual laxity, tolerating the presence of live-in lovers. Some of them are blighted by illness, real or imagined - migraines or debilitation - which I assume the author intends us to think are probably caused by venereal infections.
As so often with Zola, his characters do not hold conversations: they rant and rail. Madame Josserand's dialogue is inevitably followed by 'she shrieked' or 'she shouted'; rarely, 'she said'.
Parallel to the lives of the masters are the doings of their servants who are observed in two ways; individually, in their respective employers' households and, collectively, as they exchange badinage and insults across the communal courtyard, at maximum decibel level, of course.
There are moments of comedy, which I don't usually associate with Zola. During a wedding service, the congregation and priest are distracted by a disturbance in a side chapel where Théophile accuses Octave of impropriety with his wife. The scene where Auguste looks for a second for a duel is also amusing.
Towards the end of the novel a powerful episode occurs where Zola describes a woman giving birth alone in her room. This is harrowing stuff, extremely well done. It gives the reader such a jolt as it is totally out of step with the tone of the rest of the novel and what has gone before.
This is a energetic, lively, raucous, entertaining novel. Not top rank Zola, nothing special, but a good read nonetheless.
In Pot Luck, Zola draws particularly compelling portraits of his unsympathetic characters (who, perhaps unsurprisingly, are in a large majority), particularly the determined Madame Josserand, who will go to any lengths to secure marriage (and dowry) for her daughters, and Mme. Josserand’s wealthy, debauched brother, Bachelard, who is reluctant to part with his money under any circumstances. Zola continues to explore his perennial obsessions of the influence of heredity and environment on individual fate – the expression 'accident of birth’ being given a starkly powerful meaning via an episode towards the end of the novel. For me, Pot Luck does not quite have the power or narrative variety of the likes of Germinal, l’Assommoir or La Terre, but is nevertheless another fine Zola work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the tenth novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle of twenty novels, a sort of prequel to 'The Ladies Paradise' which was made popular recently by a television serial. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Richard Brown
I received this book as a christmas present and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book is a thought-provoking 19th century social commentary. Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2013 by Ms A. Breen