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L'Assommoir (Les Rougon-Macquart #7)

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,346 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
The seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, L'Assommoir (1877) is the story of a woman's struggle for happiness in working-class Paris. At the center of the story stands Gervaise, who starts her own laundry and for a time makes a success of it. But her husband soon squanders her earnings in the Assommoir, a local drinking spot, and gradually the pair sink into poverty ...more
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Published December 1st 2008 by B&R Samizdat Express (first published 1877)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I honestly believe this may be the most depressing novel I have ever read. It has been a long time since I've (if I've ever) so excessively cringed, tensed up, sighed from such unadulterated frustration, and chewed the insides of my mouth from stress while reading about imaginary people. Last time I can remember my eyes popping out of my head anywhere near as cartoonishly from a fiction as Zola has managed here would probably be the first time I watched Requie ...more
Glenn Russell
Jun 27, 2015 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“A heavy man of forty was serving a ten year old girl who had asked him to place four sous' worth of brandy into her cup. A shaft of sunlight came through the entrance to warm the floor which was always damp from the smokers' spitting. From everything, the casks, the bar, the entire room, a liquorish odor arose, an alcoholic aroma which seemed to thicken and befuddle the dust motes dancing in the sunlight.” One of the many vivid descriptions in the world of Émile Zola’s L'Assommoir, an urban und
...more
MJ Nicholls
Whenever I think I had a rough upbringing I read a book like this and realise I am a fluffed little pillow of good fortune. I was raised in a council tenement in a backwater semi-village in Central Scotland amid a backdrop of Protestant activism and spinster gossiping. But compared to Zola’s Paris in L’Assommoir, I was mollycoddled in a warm nook of familial love and warmth.

So: Gervaise is hardworking laundress whose life is blown to smithereens by rotten good-for-nothing beer-sodden bastard men
...more
Alex
May 13, 2010 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose
Don't actually remember when I read this, it was sometime just after college. I had read Nana for a class and needed to follow it up. As I write this blurb I'm belatedly following up L'Assommoir with Germinal. You really can't lose with Zola. Unless you're one of his characters, in which case you'll probably lose everything. To the bourgeoisie. And then you'll die. Probably of a terrible affliction.
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Arrogant 21st century reader, take hold of this book, more than a hundred years old, and suffer a humiliation like I did. Sure, you have read all types, and there isn't a book of note that isn't in your library or kindle. You feel nothing can surprise you anymore. Plots are all predictably the same. A character is introduced and you know, more or less, what the author will do to him after a hundred or so pages. A character who is innately good, and who suffers a lot, will triumph in the end. Or ...more
Rubi
Cuántos sentimientos encontrados con esta novela... Empecé con risas, alucinando con la frescura y la sinceridad de Zola. Poco a poco, al irse desarrollando la historia y al ir conociendo a los personajes más profundamente, he sentido tristeza, lástima, dolor, enfado, piedad, ternura, ganas de llorar...

Me ha fascinado, de principio a fin: no es la historia de una taberna, sino de todo un barrio parisino.
Familia, celos, cuernos, lucha por salir adelante, nuevos comienzos e ilusiones... Muchos co
...more
Jenn(ifer)
Feb 28, 2013 Jenn(ifer) marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so I'm throwing in the towel. This book is probably on the precipice of greatness, but I just don't give a f*ck. When you find yourself yawning through pages and pages of narration, skimming and sighing and rolling your eyes, it's time to cut the cord. It's not outside the realm of possibility that one day I'll find myself wanting to revisit Gervaise, maybe when I'm old and incontinent, biding my time in a nursing home waiting for death to take me. When I'm so bored of playing bingo and wa ...more
[P]
May 31, 2015 [P] rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitch-please
I struggle with Emile Zola; I have, to use a vulgar phrase, beef with him. With L'Assommoir, as with almost all his novels, it was Zola's stated aim to show life as it really was. That - reality - is actually how he responded to criticism of this particular book. No, you cannot object to L'Assommoir, he said, because it is true, it is life! And, well, I call bullshit on that.

It has always amused me that readers often lambast Balzac for his generalisations, while praising Emile - an author whose
...more
Frankie
May 24, 2013 Frankie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'Assommoir is well known for its portrayal of alcoholism. The 20th century prohibition movement took this novel up in a big way, as a morality play for the effects of alcohol abuse. Certainly if you read the final chapters, you will find yourself in Dante's first ring, with figures bouncing madly in padded cells, starving prostitutes limping down deserted streets, corpses rotting under the stairs. But the alcoholism in the novel serves merely as an enabler and multiplier for the miseries of the ...more
Capsguy
Apr 09, 2012 Capsguy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
There is no hope...

You thought you've read bleak, especially if you're acquainted with Zola, but until you read L'Assommoir you don't know anything. This hit me harder than The Book of Disquiet did by Pessoa.

No one is spared in this novel, those who escape death are left destitute or soulless. There is a glimmer of hope for some characters, but that's squashed if you're well acquainted with the Rougon-Macquart series, in which many characters in L'Assommoir have re-appearances, and certainly not
...more
Book Portrait


Terrible déchéance que celle de Gervaise, blanchisseuse dans les faubourgs ouvriers du Paris du Second Empire en pleine transformation, victime de l'alcoolisme et de la pauvreté dont Zola décrit l'engrenage avec la précision d'un journaliste et la bienveillance d'un romancier dont le grand projet est de mettre en avant un déterminisme social et héréditaire qui sans être implacable et réducteur n'en broie pas moins ses victimes. Une lecture difficile mais prenante et dont le plaisir de baigner da
...more
Lobstergirl
Dec 20, 2015 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Hugh Hewitt
Shelves: own, fiction

There are parts of L’Assommoir (the word means something like pub) which are wonderfully comical. On balance, though, the novel is horribly bleak. It’s not just about the working poor, but the nonworking poor, the ones starving to death in garrets and alleys. There’s a drunkard father who beats and kicks his wife to death over a period of months. When his 8-year-old daughter then takes over the raising of her younger siblings, he beats, whips, and starves her to death too.

But let's start with th
...more
Daniel
Jun 23, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ovo je jedna od onih knjiga, koja osim što sadrži ogromnu umetničku vrednost i ukazuje na probleme svog vremena, ona i svedoči o prošlosti i daje nam uvid u istoriju života običnih ljudi, o kojima se mnogo malo govori u zvaničnim istorijskim knjigama.

Radnja ove potresne priče smeštena je u Parizu i to negde krajem XIX veka. Knjiga prati sudbinu jedne sasvim obične pralje, koja ne želi ništa osim da je čovek ne tuče, da ima dovoljno hrane i da umre u svom krevetu. Ali, ponesena tađašnjom atmosfe
...more
Rebecca
Sep 13, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Maybe it's just me who likes Zola so much, but this has been so far an all time favorite. Zola's realism is frightening. It's one of those books that describe reality so well, in such an ugly way that you find yourself unable to put the book down. Sometimes Zola exaggerates, maybe, but most of the time, it's so painfully true.
The book describes so well the struggle of the working class, a struggle against luck, society, tradition and emotional dependence. The characters, as Zola said, are not ev
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I very nearly rated this 4 stars. It is an emotionally draining story, one which I had to stop reading about 2/3 through because I couldn't bear to read any more just then.

Gervaise wanted just a simple life: a home, enough to eat, to not be beat, to die in her bed. She was young and such goals were attainable - in fact, except for the dying part - she had them. Some people, however, don't seem able to take charge of their own destinies.

This was my first Zola, it won't be the last. His style is
...more
Duane
An exceptional novel, one of the best I've ever read, one I'm not likely to forget anytime soon. I would like to recommend it to my family and friends, but I fear they would consider it depressing and tragic and it is, but it is much more. Zola uses his brush to paint the picture of 19th century Paris as it was for the poor and working class as they dealt with low pay, poor working conditions, sickness, hunger, and abuse of every kind. Alcohol abuse is a major theme of the book as well as the ab ...more
Sam
Absolutely crushing and horrifying. Mais fantastique. My $1.95 copy of the book completely disintegrated as I read it, so that the pages would fall out as soon as I finished them, fluttering to the floor and later sitting in a messy, out-of-order pile on my bedside table. I almost feel like it was meant to be read that way. I'm almost glad I can't go back and type out the passages that were most disturbing to me: men tortured by alcoholism and succumbing finally, humiliatingly, to delirium treme ...more
Jerry
Aug 11, 2007 Jerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After Lalie has witnessed her mother perish at the hands of Bijard, her father, she assumes her mother's role both as the sole caretaker of her two younger siblings and as the sole victim of Bijard's frequent drunken rages. Though this little girl is increasingly brutalized, she never exhibits anger toward her father and even excuses his sadistic treatment of her as she dies from starvation and the whip marks that cover her entire body. The snapshots of Lalie's ordeal are an occasional backdrop ...more
Sabrina


Call me crazy but like a little grit with with my historical fiction. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about kings, queens, balls and jewels. However, I also love reading about how the other half lived or in Emile's case struggled to live.

Although L'Assomoir was written centuries ago, Emile's use of naturalism -poverty, unemployment, addiction, prejudice, human despair, class and gender struggles. Emile's Paris could be any city in any country today.

This was my first book by Emile Zola but i
...more
Yves
Sep 30, 2012 Yves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xixe-siècle, france
Émile Zola est un de mes auteurs favoris. J'adore le côté sombre de ses livres qui décrit avec justesse le monde du 19e siècle. Son histoire des Rougon-Macquard se déroule durant le Second Empire en France.

Pour ce qui est de l'Assommoir, l'histoire raconte la vie de Gervaise, une femme qui après avoir eu deux enfants avec un homme est abandonnée. Elle se marie ensuite avec l'homme parfait. Cependant, sa vie tourne au cauchemar lorsque son homme se blesse en travaillant. Celui-ci tombe alors dans
...more
Alexander Santiago
Jul 07, 2010 Alexander Santiago rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes
Zola has a gift for infusing stark reality into his novels (a knack his critics and contempararies, at the time, were none to keen nor fond of) but, this novel cemented his reputatio as a prolific author. Nothing prepared me in reading this novel of the story of Gervaise, a Parisian washer woman living in abject poverty who, left with two kids and no money by a philandering beau, slowly pulls herself from her dire consequences and establishes her own successful laundry business, only to have it ...more
Mohsen Rajabi
Nov 20, 2015 Mohsen Rajabi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
.::این معرفی، ممکن است قسمتهایی از داستان را لو دهد::.

آسوموار داستان سقوط است. سقوط انسانها در قعر غرایز حیوانی و نفسانی خود. آسوموار داستان رنج است، اما این رنج با رنجی که زولا بعدها در ژرمینال نشان میدهد فرق دارد. رنج ژرمینال تحمیلی است. کارگران معدن ناچارند از این که تن به بلعیدهشدن توسط معدن و اربابانش دهند و هر روز مزدی کم از کاری گران به دست آورند. اما آسوموار داستان تباهی انسان به دست انسان است، تباهی انسان به دست خودش. البته که عوامل و محیط هم نقشی ایفا میکنند، اما در اینجا دیگر نمیشود گ
...more
Simon Mcleish
Sep 27, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in November 2000.

Zola's novel caused such a commotion and was considered so immoral that its original serial publication was halted. Over the next century, it has proved sufficiently influential that the reason for this is to a large extent hidden, particularly in translation. Zola's story treats of the Parisian slums, and it is written in the language which would have been used by the characters, not in the equivalent of the exaggerated, cleaned up Cockney u
...more
J.M. Hushour
Mar 24, 2013 J.M. Hushour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading the R-M per Zola's suggested reading order, making this #13 for me and I encountered a problem with this outstanding volume that I'm sure I will run into with the older ones which is that by now I've read most of the R-M, many of which are shockingly and woefully overlooked and underrated whereas books like l'Assommoir are touted as classics. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing work (this edition in particular has a detailed accounting of the research Zola did for this one), rife ...more
Meredith
Dec 23, 2010 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always avoided Zola... I heard rumors that he was boring, but L'Assommoir was anything but boring. From the opening chapter's rip-roaring cat fight between Gervaise and the sister of the woman her husband runs off with in a clothes washhouse, during which they fling pails of water at each other, exchange slaps as the spectators cry “the sluts are murdering each other!” and then beat each other with the clothes beaters, to Gervaise's ascent into respectability and self-sufficiency, to her sl ...more
Tom
Aug 03, 2008 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grim and grimmer, yet also poignant and compelling.

Though the wrote in different halves of the century, I tend to group Balzac and Zola in same category of writers of sprawling social novels, but Zola is so merciless towards his characters that he wears one down after awhile. Balzac has more of a wickedly fun and compassionate view of his characters, even when all is falling apart.

Charity
Mar 20, 2015 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001books
The second book I've read from the Les Rougon-Macquart series (the first being Au Bonheurs des Dames) and an excellent read all around. The story is one you can really sink your teeth into and the characters are appalling, surprising, and somewhat comforting. Zola has been a fun author to read -- never boring, always alluring.
بلقيس
Feb 01, 2014 بلقيس rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
برأيي أن الظروف ليست من جعل حياة بطلة الرواية -جرفيز- بهذا الشكل من التعاسة وسوء الحظ , إنما هي إختياراتها الغبية في الحياة , و طريقة تعاملها مع الكثير من الأمور .
أحببت كثيراً جمال وصف الكاتب للأمور ,كوصفه للجوع ,الفقر ,الحب ,النساء ... إلخ
أكثر جزء جذبني كان عند تدهور حال -كوبيو- و دخوله إلى مصحة الأمراض العقلية .
William1
I'm giving it up. Not enough pleasure and a bit of a slog. How much can one read about primitive laundries? I stopped on page 176.
Lisa
L’Assommoir, variously translated as The Dram Shop, The Gin Palace, Drunk and Drunkard is said to be Zola’s masterpiece. Well, I haven’t read all of the Rougon-Macquart cycle, this is no. 13 in the recommended reading order so I have seven left to enjoy, but I can certainly attest to the brilliance of this one…

L’Assommoir is overwhelming. Like the very best of Dickens, it tells the story of an underclass with respect and compassion and it leaves its readers emotionally bereft. Its central charac
...more
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  • Fortunata and Jacinta: Two Stories of Married Women
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  • The Three Musketeers: An Abridgement by Lord Sudley
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Les Rougon-Macquart (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Fortune of the Rougons (Les Rougon-Macquart, #1)
  • La Curée (Les Rougon-Macquart, #2)
  • The Belly of Paris (Les Rougon-Macquart, #3)
  • La Conquête de Plassans
  • La Faute de l'abbé Mouret (Les Rougon-Macquart, #5)
  • Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (Les Rougon-Macquart, #6)
  • Une page d'amour (Les Rougon-Macquart, #8)
  • Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9)
  • Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart, #10)
  • The Ladies' Paradise (Les Rougon-Macquart, #11)

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“Death had to take her little by little, bit by bit, dragging her along to the bitter end of the miserable existence she'd made for herself. They never even knew what she did die of. Some spoke of a chill. But the truth was that she died from poverty, from the filth and the weariness of her wretched life.” 15 likes
“While the storm was erupting, she stayed, staring at it, watching the shafts of lightning, like someone who could see serious things, far away in the future in these sudden flashes of light.” 3 likes
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