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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  13,448 ratings  ·  515 reviews
A narrative is presented that dwells on the life of miners during the Industrial revolution of France. The book gives the view of the revolution from outside. It explains not only the hideous living conditions of the labourers but also the frustration that lead to the revolution. The book beautifully balances between the individual of society and society itself.
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Published July 13th 2009 by ReadHowYouWant (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.


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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
☽ Moon Rose ☯

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...more
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...more
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
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....more
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
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...)
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The introduction tells us The novel's title refers to the name of a month of the French Republican Calendar, a spring month, with 'germen' being Latin for 'seed', suggesting the hope for a better future for the miners. Zola refers to this seed in the final paragraphs of the novel. However, I did not see it as the seed for a hope for a better future, but rather the seeds of communism, socialism, unionism - all of those -isms I've pretty much hated all my life. Zola seems to have hated a different...more
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
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...more
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
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
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...more
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.
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! >:(
Un capolavoro senza tempo ma di non facile lettura. Claustrofobico è dire poco, si arranca, si soffoca un po', si lascia lì sul comodino per qualche ora, si spera in un evento positivo,si riflette, ci si rassegna, ci si perde nelle parole di Zola. Durante la lettura non pensavo di dargli il massimo dei voti perchè ho fatto fatica a leggere alcuni capitoli, però poi quello che ti lascia alla fine è un senso di impotenza immenso, un universo intero su cui ragionare. Come se tutti gli eventi fosser...more
Aaron Arnold
This is just one book in Zola's 20-volume Rougons-Macquart cycle, his magnum opus which traces the fortunes of different branches of the same family throughout the great upheavals of 19th century France, but it got good reviews so it's the first one I read. Zola has a fantastic eye for detail in addition to his amusingly dated theories of congenital sin (the main character gets crazy when he's drunk just like his ancestors, and the other characters also have sins-of-the-father inheritances that...more
Wow, this was a really great book. Starts out a bit slow but never lets you go once it gets going; Zola is an absolute master of pacing. The basic plot has to do with coal miners in northern France during the mid to late 19th century and how they revolt against oppressive situations and the parasitic bourgeoisie. It's amazing how much we can relate this novel to the current social climate.

The style is simple, unadorned, but it just draws you in and sets you up for all the craziness that one woul...more
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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...more
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.” 76 likes
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