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L'Assommoir (The Drinking Den, or Dram Shop) (Les Rougon-Macquart #7)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  9,148 Ratings  ·  377 Reviews
Widely acknowledged as one of Emile Zola's masterpieces, "L'Assommoir" is a novel immersed in the harsh poverty and relief-giving alcoholism of working-class Paris in the nineteenth century. At the heart of Zola's shockingly realistic descriptions is Gervaise, a mother abandoned by her lover who must learn to survive alone on what she can earn. When she marries the abstemi ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by (first published 1877)
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Glenn Russell
Jun 24, 2015 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.”

The above is but one of the many vivid descriptions in the world of Émile Zola’s L'Assomm
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
Mohammed  Ali
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

الإنحدار .. القاع .. الهوة .. الحيوانية .. الشقاء .. الفقر .. الإدمان ..الفاقة ..المعاناة..اليأس..الجنون..الحسرة..الخيانة ..الذل..الهوان.. الإستغلال .. البغض .. الخمر .. الحسد..
ببساطة هذه هي رواية " إميل زولا " رواية من باريس العميقة..من باريس لا تشترك مع باريس التي نعرفها إلا في الإسم ,قصة إمرأة عانت الويلات و هي تتأرجح بين رجلين إستغلاها أحسن إستغلال حتى أصبحت أدنى منزلة من الحيوان بعد أن كانت سيدة منزلها و عملها , قصة الشراب و الخمر الذين أهلكا عقول و أفئدة الرجال و حولوهم إلى خزانات مدمنة ه
"C'est de la morale en action, simplement!"

That is Zola's laconic explanation for "L'Assommoir", simply a moral message shown in action. And what devastating action it is.

Gervaise's story begins with her in tears, sitting at home late at night, watching her two little boys Claude and Etienne, four and eight years old, on a shared pillow. These are the future (anti-)heroes of The Masterpiece and of Germinal. Her first husband Lantier does not come home that night.

Thus the sad downfall of a you
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
Jan 27, 2008 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.
Note on the Translation
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Émile Zola


Explanatory Notes
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Zola may be one of my all time favorite classic writers. He's so brutally honest about pre and post revolutionary France society, which was cruel and hopeless for so many. So far, this novel hasn't failed to disappoint. Gevaise is lost amid poverty and vice, questing to lead a moral life and provide for her children. Just when she swears off men believing they are all rotten, one comes her way. Can life be perfect? What is ideal?
Zola has an absolutely mesmerizing way of unfolding the vignette t
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This book (the French title is "L'Assommoir") is a depressing argument for sobriety. It's also a vivid slice of life in late 19th century Paris. Twenty-two year old Gervaise is deserted by her lover Lantier and left with two small sons. Supporting herself as a laundress, she soon marries Coupeau, a young tin worker, and they have a daughter Anna (or Nana, who later becomes the protagonist in the Zola book with that title). The couple get along well, are steadily employed and manage to save enoug ...more
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
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
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
May 30, 2015 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
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
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
Aug 01, 2011 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
Jun 25, 2012 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
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A masterpiece. Brutal, angry, funny, sad. The final chapter in particular is extraordinary for its time, and absolutely devastating. The way he deals with domestic abuse throughout the book is jaw droppingly modern.

I have not read enough Zola, I realise that now.
Mar 31, 2009 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
I loved Germinal for its honest honest sadness that the book brings to you on a bunch of paper. This was almost equally as devastating especially in the last third when everything starts to fall apart but the difference between this and Germinal was that that had a steady pace and this one just plodded along and stretched out for ages in the middle. The last third it really picked up. The book is essentially about a lady called Gervaise (nothing to do with Ricky) and her relationship with her hu ...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
Jun 22, 2015 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
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-french, 1001
There's a lot to like about Zola. While "L'Assommoir" is the seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart sequence that Zola wrote, it is the fifth that I have read . Zola concentrates on perennially relevant themes in all his novels, themes which will still be worth reading about in one hundred years time.

"L'Assommoir" deals with themes of alcoholism and addiction, adultery, jealousy, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, squalor and urban slums. Not a gentle read by any stretch of the imagination,
Sep 13, 2009 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
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
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
Yasmine Carlson
It's very sad, very tragic, and every bit real.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boşuna dememişler “alkol bütün kötülüklerin” anasıdır diye…

Meyhane kitabını iki yıl önce okurken, alkolün sebep olduğu aile facialarına, açlığa, sefalete, yok oluşa şahit olmuştum... özellikle açlığın, sefaletin , dedikodunun anlatıldığı yerlerde Zola'nın kalemine hayran kalmıştım.
Kitabın önsözünden okuduğuma göre yazar da yaşamının bir bölümde ciddi açlık çekmiş! Öyle ki penceresine konan kuşları yakalayıp, yemek zorunda kalmış.
Meyhanede "Jervez" isimli bir kadıncağız vardı, aslında melek gibi
Jul 09, 2007 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

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
Dina Goluza
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-read, 2016
Odlična knjiga koja nije bila nimalo prijatna za čitanje. Razvlačila sam je jer nisam mogla podnijeti u jednom komadu toliko jada i bjede. Prikazujući život u siromašnim dijelovima Pariza 19. stoljeća, Zola stvara izuzetno živopisne likove i situacije.
U središtu je Gervaise, pralja, kojoj je najveći san biti sita, imati topao kutak, imati posao i da je muž ne tuče. Ali život sirotinje u Parizu je težak, a okruženje je takvo da ljude vuče ka dnu. Njena kćerka je glavni lik Zolinog romana Nana.
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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 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 (Les Rougon-Macquart, #4)
  • 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 Luck (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.” 24 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.” 4 likes
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