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Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13)
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Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart #13)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  14,231 ratings  ·  538 reviews
Zola's masterpiece of working life, Germinal (1885), exposes the inhuman conditions of miners in northern France in the 1860s. By Zola's death in 1902 it had come to symbolize the call for freedom from oppression so forcefully that the crowd which gathered at his State funeral chanted "Germinal! Germinal!"
While it is a dramatic novel of working life and everyday relations
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Paperback, 0 pages
Published June 1st 1970 by Signet Classics (first published 1885)
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MJ Nicholls
This novel is about as grim and horrendous as literature gets. Instead of ranting about the history of human suffering at various pitches of bowel-plopping rage, let me take a more facetious route. Let me instead discuss various mining experiences lived out on the Sega Mega Drive. Remember Mega Bomberman? Those who do will remember the mine level.

description

This level was pivotal in the game, since here a remote-controlled power-up was available which was crucial for facing down the final boss, whose beard
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Jason
Felt like reading a Naturlist, and I remembered Zola. Germinal was the only Zola novel on the library shelf, and I chose it merely in deferrence to the author. Little did I know that many critics believe Germinal is one of the 10 best French novels ever written.

I like stories where people are ground down by nature--poverty, weather, work conditions, hunger--and the lower economic demographic is forced to suffer and survive. The Industrial Revolution offered so many ways to catalogue the sufferi
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Graham
GERMINAL - what can I say? I studied this book at university and my whole degree course was worth the time and effort just for introducing me to the author. GERMINAL now stands as my favourite book of all time, an intense masterpiece of fiction.

The basic storyline is a miner's strike. It doesn't sound too good or too detailed, but it's all here: politics, chaos, social realism, a love story, an action story, heroes and villains, the good and the bad. Yes, it is melodramatic, but I guess I like m
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Leonard
The wobbly cages descending into the pit, miners half-naked toiling in the scorching darkness of the mine’s galleries, the veins bursting and flooding the passages, the meager wages the miners receive at the end of the day, the wives desperately scouring for gruel each meal, the parents giving their daughters to the grocer to get flour and sugar; all recounted in a calmly detached voice.

Courrières Mine Disaster
Courrières Mine Disaster

Etienne, a vagrant worker, joined the fraternity and dissatisfied with the inhuman da
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Hugo Emanuel
Germinal é parte integrante do ciclo Rougon-Macquart, um ambicioso projecto de Emile Zola no qual este se propõe a documentar minuciosamente a sociedade francesa contemporânea e salientar á boa maneira Naturalista a importância da hereditariedade e contexto social no desenvolvimento ou retrocesso de uma nação, em particular a francesa, recorrendo para o efeito a vinte romances que se debruçam sobre a dinastia Rougon-Macquart (sendo Rougon o ramo legitimo da família em questão e Macquart o ilegít ...more
Teresa
4 and 1/2 stars

I'm presently in an online group discussing this book, which is probably the reason I don't feel like writing a proper review.

This is my second Zola and I admired it as much as I did my first, L'assommoir, even if I subjectively liked the latter a bit more. The structure of the novel and the way Zola handed the complexity of the issues through the eyes of his main character, Etienne (the son of the main character in "L'assommoir," btw), is impressive.

The group scenes are tense, t
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☽ Moon Rose ☯
δ∝•☜ THE CLAMOR FOR SOCIAL EQUITY ☞•∝δ

Germinal refers to the season of spring, the time of renewal when the seed of life starts to sprout again from the ground, germinating hope after the long dormancy of winter.

Émile Zola symbolically refers to this spring of hope as the wretched lives of the coal miners, amidst the sour inflictions of deprivation, leading to their depraved lives, slowly awaken from their long years of passive obedience, allowing them to see a picture of a better life as it hust
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Aaron
Germinal is Zola's supposed masterpiece chronicling a miner's strike in a French coal-mining town. I expected a thoroughly depressing book, and that's what I got.

I had a couple of issues with the book. First of all, the main characters felt very flat. There wasn't much to interest you in them, especially the main character, Etienne. The most interesting characters Souvarine, Bonnemort, Jeanlin, Deneulin, get reduced to bit roles and instead you're just left with fragments of them, but maybe tha
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William
Jul 19, 2007 William rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erin, Katy
In 1871, Zola began a 20 volume series called Les Rougon-Macquart of which Germinal is the 13th, written in 1885. The series chronicles the life of one extended family in a tale that explores the class structure in France during the Second Empire. While he surveys the society from top to bottom, he is also weaves in the influence of environment and heredity on position and behavior. Its an incredible series, and as each novel is its own character study, between the first and the last books, you ...more
Bethan
Almost Biblical, mixed in with soapy melodrama. A bleak social novel (The Grapes of Wrath comes very much to mind and is in the same tradition) set in the 1860s about the long and excruciating sufferings of a mining community who strike for better pay and conditions. Hunger, overcrowding and sex are themes, and it's roused to almost apocalyptic levels aided by the beast of the mine. Zola's psychological understanding of humans was sometimes outstanding and I like how he did not wrap anything up ...more
Lisa
There have been some shocking accidents in coal mines in my life time, including the 2010 Pike River disaster in New Zealand which killed 29 men. More scandalously, multiple fatalities occur regularly in China, where there are numerous illegal mines and regulations to protect the workers in legal ones are obviously lax. (There were 2433 mine deaths in 2010 in China, and as I write this there is another mine disaster there this week). So even though Germinal is set in the 19th century and (accord ...more
Ally
I absolutely agree with the statements made about Zola’s Germinal being one of the masterpieces of French literature. A deeply affecting, monumental book - TRUELY Amazing.

I’m a little biased as my personal politics has always inclined to the left so I was always going to identify with this stark portrayal of the evils of a Capitalist system that makes an expendable commodity out of wretched, pitiable human beings who are working themselves to death in order to feed the greed of a privileged few.
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
apologies for pointing you where you'd rather not go but since the demise of the vhs cassette there has been little to no option for some of us to view this film except that now or recently amazon has made it available on their instant video thing and i very much enjoyed (i'm not a very nice person) the two times i saw it the first being dub'd into german at its initial kino release and a second time in a living room from a vhs cassette and i have not seen any evidence that it made its way onto ...more
Lada
Le roman presente une these, fait partie d'un projet de travail de la part de l'ecrivain, Emile Zola, qui represente la decheance d'une famille, d'une tare d'une folle qui se perpetue dans sa descendance, la tare aupres de laquelle ils ne deviennent que des victimes impuissantes.
C'est un tres beau roman de la vision et de la foi pour la lutte contre exploitation de houilleurs contre une compagnie des mines. Emile Zola appartient a l'ecole surrealiste, donc son ecriture depeint la realite et la
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Mikey B.
** Some spoilers within **

An extremely intriguing story that moves along with several sub-plots – all of them well interconnected. The style is very social oriented – in this case exploring the lives of coal miners in the north of France. It resembles Dickens who was concerned with both social issues and class issues; but unlike Dickens, who was very puritanical; the sexual passages in “Germinal” are really quite forthright – for instance women have menstrual cycles.

Zola, I would say, is somewhe
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Kim
Germinal by Emile Zola. Just typing that made me want to go dig it out and re-read it. I loved this book. It was so depressing and horrible and everybody was so miserable I don't know how you couldn't like this book. :-} It was published in 1885 and has been called Zola's masterpiece. I have no idea if it is his masterpiece because I've read lots of other Zola novels that I like just as much. But it was an awesome book, if you like being depressed that is.

The novel is set in the 1860s in a minin
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Leftbanker
Moi, je vois autrement. Je n’ai guère de souci et de beauté et de perfection.Je me moque des grands siècles.Je n’ai souci que de vie, de lutte, de fièvre. -Émile Zola

Zola is the supreme novelist, at least how I interpret that vocation. Like Dickens, Zola went out and studied France and her people for inspiration while Proust sat in a cork-lined room and dreamed up all of his stories in his head. I'll take journalism over the human imagination any day. Germinal is the essence of this style of wri
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F.R.
This is the very definition of a book that’s easier to admire than love.

I appreciated how brilliantly evocative it was and how keen the narrator’s eye is in making sure no detail of these character’s lives is missed. It’s brilliantly written. However it’s a long book with few light moments, which meant picking it up and reading it was occasionally daunting. It is all very well to write a book about the agony of work, but it shouldn’t be work to actually read up. That said, the drama at the end i
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Rob
See also: my review of Cousin Bette .

An assigned reading for a college class. My "classics" digestion enzyme was not being secreted. I failed to appreciate it.

A classic? Perhaps. A masterful depiction of its era? Perhaps. At all enjoyable? Not by me and certainly not at the time.

And once again: it seems there are so many positive reviews of the text that I ought re-visit it. (We'll see...)
Eadweard
I thought it was great up until the last hundred pages or so, then it downgraded to very good (or so). I still would recommend it.
Julia Good-Reads
It was definitely stunning as a picture of the depth of human existence before basic human rights and unions etc. elevated the standards of living and working - much like the Grapes of Wrath. This book was recommended to me as a sort of French equivalent to the Grapes of Wrath. However, unlike the Grapes, which I found delightful and fascinating to the last page, I found Germinal more grim and less compelling. After the initial shock (most notably the descriptions of the conditions in the mines ...more
Sam
A singularly great and unusual passage:

"'We want bread! We want bread!'
Over and above the din he shouted in a burst of fury:
'Bread! Do you think that is all there is to it, you fools?'
He had food in plenty, but that did not prevent his groaning in anguish. His devastated home and the long drawn-out pain of his life - these things seemed to rise and catch him in the throat like the gasp of a dying man. As though everything in the garden were lovely just because you had bread to eat! What idiot im
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Aiko
Germinal is the one story that made me feel all emotion. It accounts the general unfairness of the world with the separation of people into classes—conventionally the bourgeoisie or the masters, and the serfs and the slaves--and details on the conflicts between them. It also suggests ways upon which such a system could be abolished—presenting many socialist theories, mainly anarchy. In the end, though the capitalists remained victor, since the poor had so much more to lose, the book still gives ...more
Emily
What to say? This was without question the most depressing book I've ever read. It just kept getting worse. I cried. But it was so powerful, that idea of the workers trudging day after day, a mute herd, trying to break free of it, the power of a mob turning things into chaos, crisis after crisis, then... back to the mines. I'm not sure yet of Zola's political stance; one thing I'm sure of, he doesn't think that any sudden rebellion or Souvarine's anarchy is going to work. He's too much of a rati ...more
Dagny
Germinal, the subject of several movies, is the thirteenth of Zola's twenty Rougon-Macquart novels. The books do not need to be read in order, each novel stands on its own as the story of a different member of the family. The catalyst of Germinal is Etienne Lantier. (His mother's extremely poignant story is portrayed in L'Assommoir.) I put off reading Germinal for many years, always hearing that it was a terribly depressing novel, but I found it exciting, full of action, and loved it enough to r ...more
Craig
Outstanding! I had read two other of Zola's works before this and had liked his writing style, characters, etc., but was ill-prepared for Germinal. I can tell that this one will stay with me for a while after finishing it. Is it a novel about revolution or a revolutionary novel? Both, mainly due to Zola's keen research and poetic translation of life and living influenced by "heredity, environment, the historical moment". A Masterpiece!
Petra X
Jun 16, 2008 Petra X rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like literature, who like socially-relevant stories and delight in a good, long book.
Shelves: fiction
Part of the 20-vol Rougon-Marquart cycle. All the books are good and very differerent, but Nana stands out as being as relevant now as then, as in any time in fact. The girl with the pretty face and no moral problem about capitalising it becomes the most-highly paid courtesan in Paris but looks don't last.
Traveller
I haven't bought this book yet, so i'm trying to find out what would be the best translation before i do.

Damn, i should get moving with my French so that i can read it in the original! >:(
Allegra Byron
Una obra maestra de la literatura decimonónica. La vida de los mineros franceses, reflejada tan fielmente que en mucho momentos de emoción, he tenido que dejar de leer y contener esas lágrimas que me brotaban.
Una jauría de mineros, locos por el hambre y la injusticia, sin nada que perder, excepto la vida. Esa vida cuyo único fin es bajar a la mina por un poco de pan o un café aguado. Relaciones humanas y sexuales tan sórdidas, que hace daño leerlas. Burgueses preocupándose por qué ponerse o por
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Anna
When I said I wanted to read 'Germinal', both of those who’d read it assured me it was intensely depressing. In fact, a friend who seems to purposely read horrible things (such as histories of Stalinist Russia) informed me that it was the most depressing book that she had ever read. I didn’t see how it could be. Moreover, I’d heard that it was Zola’s great masterpiece and the blurb seemed innocuous. I thought, ‘How bad can it be?’

Excruciating, that’s how bad. At times, near the end, it was very
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Émile François Zola was an influential French novelist, the most important example of the literary school of naturalism, and a major figure in the political liberalization of France.

More than half of Zola's novels were part of a set of 20 books collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Unlike Balzac who in the midst of his literary career resynthesized his work into La Comédie Humaine, Zola from
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More about Émile Zola...
Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9) Thérèse Raquin L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart, #7) La Bête humaine (Les Rougon-Macquart, #17) The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)

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“Blow the candle out, I don't need to see what my thoughts look like.” 84 likes
“If people can just love each other a little bit, they can be so happy.” 65 likes
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