“Why are some miserable? why are others rich? why are the former beneath the heel of the latter without hope of ever taking their place? "
Along with fellow French writers Balzac and Flaubert, Zola steered the course of the novel in the 19th century and had a major influence on American and British writers, especially those in the realistic and naturalistic schools. "Germinal" is perhaps Zola's masterpiece, a sweeping, brutal, almost apocalyptic story of a miner's strike in rural France. Touching on capitalism, communism, worker's rights, Darwinism, and alcoholism, "Germinal" is an anti-Victorian novel, reveling in the filth and violence those books leave out. Zola spent time with miners when writing this and so is something of a "method" writer. This is part of his massive, multi-volume series known as Les Rougon-Macquart. Also check out "Therese Raquin" and "La Bete Humaine."
Incredible detail and storytelling. The dire images of poverty and inhumane conditions in the mine were disturbing. The events of the strike and its consequence are riveting. This reminded me of a French version of "The Jungle" but with better pace and flow. I found myself not wanting to put the book down. Zola is a truly gifted writer.
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