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(Les Rougon-Macquart #13)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  30,687 ratings  ·  1,446 reviews
The thirteenth novel in Émile Zola’s great Rougon-Macquart sequence, Germinal expresses outrage at the exploitation of the many by the few, but also shows humanity’s capacity for compassion and hope.

Etienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Forced to take a back-breaking job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot
Paperback, 592 pages
Published January 29th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1885)
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Stebbins While they can be read in any order, I feel that it's best to start with "The Fortune of the Rougons" and end with "The Doctor Pascal".…moreWhile they can be read in any order, I feel that it's best to start with "The Fortune of the Rougons" and end with "The Doctor Pascal".(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
824. Germinal (Les Rougon-Macquart #13), Émile Zola

Germinal was written between April 1884 and January 1885.

Often considered Zola's masterpiece and one of the most significant novels in the French tradition, the novel – an uncompromisingly harsh and realistic story of a coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860's – has been published and translated in over one hundred countries and has additionally inspired five film adaptations and two television productions.

عنوان: ژرمینال؛ نویسنده: ام
The “Germinal” novel was published in 1885 and is considered the main work of Emile Zola. It describes the inhumane conditions in the mines of the French coal mining area of the 19th century.
The novel sheds light on the conflicts and lines of conflict that arise between capitalists and miners, but also between workers themselves, who disagree about how the terrible conditions can be overcome.
Germinal is considered one of Emile Zola's best works, the author's style and impressive representations
Étienne Lantier - Claude, the painter's brother! Nana, the whore's brother! Jacques, the murderer's brother! Gervaise, the alcoholic's son!

I know this part of the Rougon-Macquart family tree better than any other, and each of the family members stands for a novel that sends a shiver down my spine - of reading delight and sorrowful mourning over the human condition. "Germinal" is a masterpiece in its own right, but one can't help thinking of the social background of the young man wandering up th
Henry Avila
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Emile Zola's acknowledged masterpiece written in 1885, the politics are dated as history has shown, his overemphasis on sex, research and common sense have refuted, this is the 19th century, not the 21st, (trying to sell more books ? "Nana," made the same error) his characters are more symbols than real human beings, with a quite melodramatic plot even, yet Germinal, is a superb novel, which will capture your total interest, the reader will learn much about little known aspects, the dangers , of ...more
Steven Godin
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Within the first few pages of Zola's striking masterpiece I was completely sucked into his vision of the poverty suffering and slave driven folk of the mining world, first published in 1885 it holds the power and importance for today. As we start with young unemployed railway worker Etienne Lantier wondering the cold and punishing landscape of northern France in search of work, and without a penny to his name is desperate to land just about anything that pays. After stumbling into a small mining ...more
“I am little concerned with beauty or perfection. I don't care for the great centuries. All I care about is life, struggle, intensity.”- Emile Zola

Let me draw a scene for you. I appreciate your patience as I am going to write it as vividly as possible.

The lady on the chair is well past her prime- 40 maybe- with her youthful rosiness and smooth, taut skin beginning to give away under the suffocating reality in which she and her family are haplessly ensconced. The room in which she sits is tiny, b
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
Zola had a very structured technique for the industrial production of novels, he would decide on where the action would take place and who the principal characters would be Les Rougon-Macquart gave him a family tree and a glorious mess of hereditary tendencies and illnesses to work within, the setting would be interrogated thoroughly and mined out. In researching Germinal Zola visited a coal mine and was intrigued by the big strong horses working underground - how, he asked, did the mine company ...more
E. G.
Note on the Translation
Select Bibliography
Chronology of Émile Zola
Plan of Montsou and surrounding areas


Explanatory Notes
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
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: idiots with a romantic idea of coal mining
Shelves: 2018
Zola likes it exciting. He's a pioneer of realism - in this 1885 landmark, among others, he insists on showing the world how it is, filthy and broken and sick. He calls this naturalism, and what he means is that the world shapes the person. Underground in the coal mines where this book is set, a grinding world produces grinding people. (And is he just a tiny bit overexcited about the idea of poor people having casual sex? Maybe.)

It's as dark as its subject; Zola's naturalism was "a new method o
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zola
Three things:

1. Zola's writing of abuse and domestic violence is breathtakingly modern;

2. Poor old horse; and

3. This novel contains a scene in which someone tears a dead man's dick off and parades it around on a stick.
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Germinal by Émile Zola takes place in a fictional mining town near the Belgium border of northern France. It lies in the vicinity of Marchiennes, a French commune in the Département du Nord. The story is about the haves and the have-nots, the bourgeoise mine owners, their managers and the hardscrabble poor working the mines. Along comes a young, idealistic youth of twenty one, Etiénne Lantier. He envisions what can be achieved if workers rise up and demand fair pay and better working conditions. ...more
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
"In the old man’s time the miner lived in the mine like a brute, like a machine for extracting coal, always under the earth, with ears and eyes stopped to outward events. So the rich, who governed, found it easy to sell him and buy him, and to devour his flesh; he did not even know what was going on."

Germinal is a book I've been intending to read for a long time. I'm not sure now was the best time because it's rather depressing, but it is also a good book and well worth reading.

Emile Zola wrote
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Greg Brozeit
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zola
Rereading Germinal during the self-isolation/lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, after more than 37 years when I first read it in college—the best book I read as a student—is one of those things that makes me wonder if there is something mystical in the world after all. I’ve been struggling with writing a review. I had quotes and paragraphs lined up to put together into an eloquent argument for why this may be the most relevant novel to explain any place and any time in history even though it is ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 w
Petra Kiss
Jun 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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, reviewed
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. ...more
Feb 21, 2015 marked it as to-read
Contrary to what you may believe, Germinal is not a minor work.
Mikey B.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
** 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
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
The descriptions of the lives of coal miners and their families in 19th century France were drenched with the wretchedness of their conditions. It was very vivid, but I preferred L’Assommoir. This book was very bleak and depressing. Reading about people who have sold everything they have and have no chance of getting even a crust of bread was hard to take. So were the harrowing conditions in the mine. I also could have done without all the sex. Although not graphic, it was extremely frequent and ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wonder, just how much suffering can the laboring masses endure? Further, why were revolutionary forces, acting to remedy that suffering, so successfully vilified, some even to this day? These thoughts arose while reading M. Zola’s excellent Germinal, a tale that grants a potent voice to the destitute unfortunates, in this case oppressed coal miners in northern France, amid the unrelenting contest with faceless capital.

Recently, I listened to an old favorite, Hazel Dickens singing Coal Miner’s
Moon Rose
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2011-shelf

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 h
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Germinal is the thirteenth novel in Émile Zola's twenty-volume series Les Rougon-Macquart. 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 l ...more
Laurie –Read Between The Skylines–
Rating this book is a difficult thing.

It took me a while to read it, I knew that before starting it, Zola is a big deal. Long descriptions, unnecessary parts, complicated way to say what he wants. But in the end, the meaning and the message is always deep and strong.

Rating : 3,5

As I said I was about to give up on this book every two seconds, I was like "hold on, it is not that bad"

Let's be serious for a minute.
I did liked this book. I already studied this part of history in school, but Zola br
Rick Slane
More labor vs. capital concerning coal miners in northeastern France in 1866.
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-list
Germinal thoroughly described the social and political climate of a coal miners’ uprising in northern France in the 1860s. The book was admittedly slow to start, but once it finally got going, it was truly engrossing…up until the last 80 pages or so, when it anticlimactically trickled off to a fairly lackluster ending. Also, I could have done without the “dramatic” love triangle, which didn’t really add much to the book in my opinion.

At its best, however, the book was damned exciting. The unbear
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 (son of the main character in "L'assommoir"), is impressive.

The group scenes are tense, thrilling,
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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

Other books in the series

Les Rougon-Macquart (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Fortune of the Rougons
  • La Curée
  • The Belly of Paris
  • La Conquête de Plassans (Les Rougon-Macquart, #4)
  • La Faute de l'abbé Mouret (Les Rougon-Macquart, #5)
  • Son Excellence Eugène Rougon (Les Rougon-Macquart, #6)
  • L'Assommoir
  • Une Page d'amour
  • Nana
  • Pot Luck

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