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About the book
  • Published: 29 March 2004
  • ISBN: 9780140447422
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • RRP: $16.99

Germinal




Considered by André Gide to be one of the ten greatest novels in the French language, Émile Zola's Germinal is a brutal depiction of the poverty and wretchedness of a mining community in northern France, translated with an introduction by Roger Pearson in Penguin Classics.

Étienne Lantier, an unemployed railway worker, is a clever but uneducated young man with a dangerous temper. Compelled to take a back-breakin job at Le Voreux mine when he cannot get other work, he discovers that his fellow miners are ill, hungry and in debt, unable to feed and clothe their families. When conditions in the mining community deteriorate even further, Lantier finds himself leading a strike that could mean starvation or salvation for all. The thirteenth novel in 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.

Roger Pearson's lively and modern new translation is accompanied by an introduction that examines the social and political background to Zola's masterpiece, in particular the changing relationship between labour and capital. This edition also contains a further reading list and filmography, chronology, notes and glossary.
Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877).

If you enjoyed Germinal, you might like Zola's Thérèse Raquin, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Pub date: 29 March 2004
  • ISBN: 9780140447422
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 592
  • RRP: $16.99

About the Author

Emile Zola

Émile Zola (1840-1902) is the author of Les Rougon-Macquart – a cycle of 20 novels written over a period of 22 years including Nana(1880), Germinal (1885) and The Drinking Den (1877)- which provides a panoramic view of life under Napoleon III. He was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. Zola campaigned for justice over the Dreyfus affair – ‘it is up to us poets to nail the guilty to the eternal pillory’ – and his open letter to the President ‘J’accuse’ landed him a prison sentence that he evaded only through exile in England. He is buried in the Panthéon alongside Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas.

Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956. His first novel, Ulverton, was published in 1992, and he has written nine others, two collections of stories and six books of poetry – most recently Voluntary. Thorpe’s translation of Madame Bovary, ‘stunning and heartily recommended’ (Scotsman), is available in Vintage Classics. He lives in France with his wife and family.

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