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They all could have lived on salad and eaten bucketfuls of it. Set in France’s Second Empire, the series traces the “environmental” influences of violence, alcohol and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. All those invited voraciously down wine and bread, goose and cake, and then each person takes their turn singing a song.

It’s also a vivid slice of life in late 19th century Paris. 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.

meyhsne Hunger is the only remaining feeling that tells her she is alive. Zola has an absolutely mesmerizing way of unfolding the vignette that is Gevaise’s existence. 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. Can life be zols 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 There is no hope Poor thing, it doesn’t know any better.

Then Coupeau has an accident and thereafter the family is mired in debt. 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.


L’Assommoir (The Dram Shop) by Émile Zola

At every moment she could have pulled herself away from all this, but she didn’t, or maybe she couldn’t in some way. That – reality – is actually how he responded to criticism of this particular book. It has always amused meyjane that readers often lambast Balzac for his generalisations, while praising Emile – an author whose I struggle with Emile Zola; I have, to use a vulgar phrase, beef with him.

One fine evening, Gervaise hosts a dinner fit for royalty. Apparently some of these novels have not been translated into English for well over one hundred years and the older translations do not read so well.

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. 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.

Not a gentle read by any stretch of the imagination, however, it is compulsive. Madame Putois capped that by saying she took heads of lettuce without taking off the outside leaves and just chewed them up like that, dipping them in salt.

The accident on the roof is mirrored later when Nana sees her drunk father fall out of his bed, lying in his vomit, while her mother is engaged in depressed love-making with her half-brothers’ father, the suddenly reappeared Lantier.

I finish giving you my opinion. Centuries of art passed before their dazed ignorance — the subtle economy of the primitives, the splendours of the Venetians, the sleek and colourful life of the Dutch. And an increasing abuse of, and dependence on, alcohol. Life, alas, has a dismal outlook for Gervaise and her family.

The 20th century prohibition movement took this novel up in a big way, as a morality play for the effects of alcohol abuse. And then you’ll die. Familia, celos, cuernos, lucha por salir adelante, nuevos comienzos e ilusiones To understand the brutality of her later life choices, Nana’s childhood must be considered: Refresh and try again. A black intoxication, painful, which raises the discomfort and returns the brain.


While “L’Assommoir” is the seventh novel in the Rougon-Macquart sequence that Zola wrote, it is the fifth that I have read. Jun 25, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Other books in the series.

In this 7th volume of Rougon-Macquart, the main character that the reader will follow and which he is likely to attach is Gervaise Macquart, the granddaughter of Adelaide Fouque, root-strain of the family. But what interested them most were the artists who were copying, with their easels planted amongst the people, painting away unrestrainedly. 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.

They never even knew what she did die of. The second half of the novel describes the downward spiral of addiction in its most minute details.

L’Assommoir (The Dram Shop)

I seem to remember a lot of goodreaders dissing on it, but I do look forward to reading Nana as soon as I can find a copy.

Envidia encubierta y falsedad. Here, she is growing into a saucy, rebellious teen, slinging around cuss words. 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. Nella traduzione italiana assume un suono wmile sinistro: Even in translation the accounts of laundry stains on undergarments, greasy tabletops, floors wet with spit, etc — achieve a visceral effect on any reader.