Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart, #10)
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Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart #10)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  603 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Zola est entré partout, chez les ouvriers et chez les bourgeois. Chez les premiers, selon lui, tout est visible. La misère, comme le plaisir, saute aux yeux. Chez les seconds, tout est caché. Ils clament : « Nous sommes l’honneur, la morale, la famille. » Faux, répond Zola, vous êtes le mensonge de tout cela. Votre pot-bouille est la marmite où mijotent toutes les pourritu...more
Paperback, 510 pages
Published September 1st 1984 by Livre de Poche (first published 1882)
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Sam


Filthy! I feel like I need a shower.
Was looking forward to the next one I'm planning to read, The Ladies' Paradise, but if vapid, eternally desperate Octave is the main character...bleh. I'm sure Zola will pull it off, though.
Also, what a weird translation of the title... I think "Boiling-Pot" makes more sense.
Boots
as my last book for 2012, i really wanted to love this, but maybe having read The Ladies Paradise before (for which this is a prequel) sort of spoiled it for me.

this is a farce, but it can also be quite dark. it's also probably the second most overtly perverse tales in the Rougon-Macquart series (The Earth still holding that trophy high). but i feel like it took forever to establish the bewildering cast of characters (seriously: there were people toward the end that i couldn't figure for the li...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I expected to like this and I was not disappointed. I did not read the new translation by Brian Nelson, but the description given for his translation aptly describes the basis for the story.

Zola called this Pot Bouille, which I knew does not translate Pot Luck; another English title is Piping Hot, which doesn't quite do it either. It literally means "pot boils" and I spent many pages trying to assimilate this "boils" to the novel. A bit over halfway, he says ... a lively woman who had been rear...more
Nathanial
This guy must've been a scandal. Any book that proclaims "The Only Un-Edited, Un-Expurgated Edition"...well, must've been censored at some point. So, Zola...late 19th Century France, allied with the Naturalist school of fiction and drama, countered Romantic idealism and Surrealist symbolism, blah blah blah (thanks Wiki). Instead of repeating those arguments about mimesis and artifice, I'm going to point towards a couple moments where Zola breaks his own rules.

He's got this damning tone throughou...more
J.M. Hushour
"Pot Luck", according to a reviewer in Le Temps Moderne, was Zola's "all-about-the-fuckin'" installment of his 20-volume Les Rougons-Macquart chronicle. And there is plenty of fuckin'. In fact, the overarching theme is sex, adultery, and shitty, shitty people. Most of the action takes place in a bourgeois apartment block in the early 1860s where a bunch of wannabe, shiftless, pathetic middle class assholes live and pretend to be virtuous imperial citizens. But secretly they're all banging each o...more
Linda
Talk about slams!!! Zola shoots out one zinger after another in this novel about the indiscretions of the prim and proper bourgeoisie in France. Hypocrisy abounds and snobbery overflows among these residents of a newly constructed apartment block in Paris:

There was a certain gaudy splendor about the hall and staircase. At
the font of the stairs was the gilt figure of a Neopolitan woman
woman with a jar on her head, from which issued three gas-jets in
ground-glass globes. The imitation marble...more
Nancy
Zola peels away the thin veneer of respectability from the lives of the bourgeois residents of a Paris apartment building. The antihero is young Octave Mouret who comes to Paris from the provinces and takes a job as a salesman. He embarks on a several affairs with the ladies in the Rue de Choiseul block of flats. In spite of upheavels caused by Octave, the outrage does not last long, rather the effort of the community of Rue de Choiseul goes toward returning to an appearance of respectability, r...more
Kevin Brubaker
Disappointing book. It felt much more like propaganda than novel. Zola is so intent on criticizing bourgeois hypocrisy that there was little room left to develop characters I could actually care about. Who cares if A sleeps with B behind C's back if there is no sense of the emotion (love? pain? betrayal?) behind any of the characters? Having enjoyed the PBS mini-series "The Paradise," I assumed that this book about The Paradise's lead character's earlier life would be even better. This is one of...more
Greg Brozeit
Zola again writes with contempt and, at times, dark humor about the duplicity of all parts of society during the Second Empire. I can't think of one sympathetic or likeable character (much like his novel, The Kill) in the book but found it engaging nonetheless.

The setting is a modern apartment house and the plot revolves around Octave Mouret, son of Francois and Marthe Mouret, the key figures in The Conquest of Plassans, as he strives to seek his fortune, love conquests and station in life after...more
Lisa
Well, here we are at No 7 in the recommended reading order for those wanting to read Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle of novels. It’s Pot-Bouille, written in 1882 and translated variously as Pot Luck, Restless House, and Piping Hot though none of these really capture the metaphorical meaning of the original title, according to Brian Nelson, the translator of this Oxford World Classics edition. There isn’t really an English word which manages to convey the ‘melting-pot of sexual promiscuity’ which pe...more
Teresa
3.9
I was eager to read this book when I found out it was about Octave Mouret, one of the main characters of The Ladies' Paradise.
The story starts when he leaves his hometown, Plassans (where the saga starts with The Fortune of the Rougons), for Paris where a friend of his family is to offer him a place to leave and also an employment at 'Bonheur des Dames'.
Octave is an ambitious and very intelligent man but still very young and, after all, not used to Paris' society. First of all, he knows he m...more
Marija
Brian Nelson’s choice of title for Zola’s novel—Pot Luck—was truly a smart decision on his part. On the one hand, the title is a good reflection of the mixed bourgeois class—the families and servants—living in that Paris apartment building; yet, the title also reflects the effervescent style Zola used when he wrote this story. It’s like a pot that’s at a rolling boil. The story is full of energy...one scene easily flows into the next and is told with such energy that you don’t really get a chanc...more
Atiba
Potboiler might be a better way to translate the title of this novel by Zola, and more appropriate to the original French (Pot-Bouille); "Paris Stew" might also be fitting but it doesn't quite roll off the tongue in the same way. This is novel about adultery, conspicuous consumption, and hypocrisy in a Paris apartment building-- Melrose Place with a social conscience. The story is filled with incredible scenes mixing farcical comedy with sarcastic commentary, and it's populated with memorable ch...more
Call Me Ishmael
The story of Octave Mouret, oldest son of Marthe Rougon and Francios Mouret. This is the 7th in the suggested reading order, but Octave doesn’t play a role in earlier novels.

Zola’s attacks the hypocrisy of middle-class moralizing. Everyone sleeps with very one in a Paris 4 story, but wealth and position decides consequence. He also explores the groveling and affects of groveling in top-down/might-makes-right society.

If you are wondering how people live with themselves after they use Jesus as a...more
Sam Jasper
Along with the human characters, the apartment building in this book is a character. This is book also shows us one of a very few characters Zola ever used twice, in this case, Octave Mouret. (If you plan to read more Zola, read this book before Ladies Paradise.)

This is a well crafted story of hypocrisy and manners of the middle to upper middle class of the Second Empire. The intrigues, the manipulation for better position or better husbands, the marriage contracts, the back street kept women, a...more
Yves
Ce livre traite de l'hypocrisie des bourgeois. Ces gens qui ont parfois des moeurs douteuses et qui sont les premiers à pointer les autres du doigt lorsqu'ils se font prendre à faire des choses qu'eux même font. Pot-Bouille c'est l’adultère et les autres atteintes aux moeurs cachées derrière la façade d'une maison supposément respectable.

Pot-bouille c'est aussi l'influence de l'environnement sur le comportement humain. Octave Mouret devient dans cette maison un coureur de jupons qui use de ses c...more
Victoria Mixon
Piping Hot, in my 1950s paperback version---Zola pioneered the wonderful Naturalist school of literature in Paris with his dreadfully dark, dank stone buildings and marvelously corrupt middle-class snobs. This novel in particular is an exact, telling, brutal portrait of everyday social hypocrisy: an apartment building that houses four floors of middle-class moral icons is secretly a rabbit warren of adultery, lying, cheating, and economic bullying. Everyone who has ever wondered how the Religiou...more
Graham
I'd read Zola's GERMINAL, which I decided was probably my favourite work of literature of all time, so I knew I had to try others that he wrote. This was the first one I found.

It's no GERMINAL, but it is a good read. Zola's wry style is present in spades, and this story is just as outrageous as that found in GERMINAL, although perhaps not as tragic or moving. The emphasis here is on sex and debauchery, with all kinds of hilarious things going on: men sneaking into servant's quarters, gossip in t...more
Carol
Awash with cynicism, this book follows the goings-on at a bourgeoisie apartment building in Paris during the 1860s. Zola takes a sly look at the corruption and decadence underneath the respectable, moral facade maintained by the residents. There's plenty of harsh irony, particularly where hypocrisy is revealed. It's all very well-written and constructed, and most of the characters alternate between despicable and humorous.
Alexander Santiago
Another Balzac favorite that is set during the renaissance building of the old to the modern Paris in the mid 1800s, it is the story of 3 families who live in a modern, brand new triplex home. A home which, in spite of its appearance of a "wealth" of luxuries and amenities of its facade and interiors, belies the poverty and dire straits of its tenents - yet, it is about keeping up appearances. A fascinating book.
Louis
Another wonderful chapter in the 20 volume Rougon-Macquart series of books.This one deals with the lives of the people all living in an upscale Paris building.The lives and loves of the petty bourgeois and their servants is examined with great detail.There are some incredible scenes in this book that just make you shake your head at how people lived in 19th century Paris.
Esteban Gordon
The 19th century French bourgeoisie shown in all their hypocritical, perverted splendor. I imagine if all current American politicians were forced to live in a giant apartment building, their lives would resemble this novel. Bravo I say!
Elizabeth
I don't think the translation of the title is correct--the edition I read was called Pot Bouille. That better represents the plot, which concerns a large apartment building, with a different drama raging behind every closed door.
Julie
Ah il ne les a pas ratés! Un portrait cynique et truculent d'une bourgeoisie qui prêche la morale et la vertu mais qui n'est au final que simplement humaine, trop humaine. Un régal à lire.
K' Lati
A bunch of middle class families perpetrating and trying to one up eachother. The do as I say not as I do kind.
Geoffrey
Not as good as you'd hope. Sure, it has lesbian sex, but so does Nana, which is a much better novel.
Hollie
Un livre magnifique, mais vraiment cru!! choquant même, des fois!
David
My favourite novel by Zola: at last comedy and tragedy balanced.
Pamela
Didn't finish but will go back to it.
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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...
Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart, #13) Nana (Les Rougon-Macquart, #9) Thérèse Raquin L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart, #7) La Bête humaine (Les Rougon-Macquart, #17)

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“She was cold by nature, self-love predominating over passion; rather than being virtuous, she preferred to have her pleasures all to herself.” 27 likes
“He wept for truth which was dead, for heaven which was void. Beyond the marble walls and gleaming jewelled altars, the huge plaster Christ had no longer a single drop of blood in its veins.” 4 likes
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