/ Emile Zola

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jess13 - on 12 Mar 2019

 Just read 'Pot-Bouille' which the English publishers translate or rather rename it  'Restless House'.  Published in 1882 its an account of the salacious 'goings-on' in a middle class apartment house in Paris during Louis Napoleons Empire days. This must have been dynamite in France when it was published with its withering criticism of the bourgoisie and with all the sex (mainly implied even the French didn't go into detail) it probably wasn't published until well into the 20th century in Britain -Victorian Britons didn't have sex (in literature at least). A great read, I laughed at some of the gross hypocrisy of some of the characters and the nod to Dickens when some of them border on the grotesque.

I've read a few of the Rougon -Macquart novels when I get hold of them (some have been out of print for many years so I trawl for old copies - the above was a quid from the flea market -good value). Of the other books I regard 'Germinal' as one of the worlds great novels and if you want to know about the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 'Le Debacle' is an exciting (and Factual) tale as good as any contemporary historical pageturner.

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andrew ogilvie - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jess13:

I read  Germinal and L'Assommoir about a million years ago but have a complete works on My Kindle. If I know me ( ie notorious skinflint) I'm sure this must have been a free download and is probably still available if you search it out electronically. 

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Paul Atkinson - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jess13:

A contender for my favourite author (and Germinale a contender for my favourite  novel) - as Andrew says, if you’ve got a Kindle there are sets of complete works in translation for a few quid and the one I’ve got is of good quality. Nicer to have the books though if you can find them! If you love Zola I’m guessing Flaubert and Balzac are/would be to your taste too

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Harry Jarvis - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to jess13:

Germinal and Le Debacle are astonishing pieces of work. I would also add La Terre to your list. 

Anyone with an interest in literature (or simply good reading) should read Zola. 

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Hat Dude on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

> Anyone with an interest in literature (or simply good reading) should read Zola. 

Especially his biography of Jack Hughes

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Bjartur i Sumarhus on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to jess13:

Never read any of his novels although have heard good things before. Would you say the Rougon-Macquart novels would be best read in order? 

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Gordon Stainforth - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to jess13:

I've never read any Zola, and would like to try the famed 'Germinal'. Has anyone got a recommendation for the best translation? (there are Penguin and Oxford Classics, for example, and a Kindle version that's strongly criticised for being massively abridged.) 

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Paul Atkinson - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

The Penguin Classic (Pearson) translation of Germinale is excellent - I’ve not read the other translations 

Some of the less popular novels in the series are only available in old and sometimes dodgy translations but for the headline acts I’d go with the Penguins - all of them are well done and the introductions are generally of a high standatd too

And if you enjoy the book, the film Germinale starring Gerard Depardieu is one of the best film of the books I can think of 

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Paul Atkinson - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I wouldn’t recommend reading them in order. The popular ones are popular for good reason and few people are going to read the whole series. I read them at random and wouldn’t change that even if I started again. I’d check out the Penguin Classics (unless you’re reading in French) and start with any of Germinale, The Debacle, Nana, La Bete Humaine, Therese Racquin, La Terre - whichever takes your fancy from the cover notes 

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Harry Jarvis - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> Never read any of his novels although have heard good things before. Would you say the Rougon-Macquart novels would be best read in order? 

I wouldn't recommend reading them all. There are a lot of them, and some of them aren't very good. It's also notable that there is no set order to them - the order in which they were written is not the chronological order in which they are set. If you are keen to read anything, start with the classics, as have been mentioned here, and if you develop a taste for them, you can fill in the gaps as you wish. The order doesn't really matter, and the main narratives stand perfectly well without needing reference to the grander scheme. 

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BnB - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

> A contender for my favourite author (and Germinale a contender for my favourite novel. If you love Zola I’m guessing Flaubert and Balzac are/would be to your taste too

I couldn’t agree more. Balzac’s Comedie Humaine series is superb (start with La Peau de Chagrin) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary might contain the best prose ever put to paper. Like much of C19th English literature, what you imagine to be turgid literary perambulations turn out to be incisive, witty and socially aware.

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john arran - on 13 Mar 2019
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

>  If you love Zola I’m guessing Flaubert and Balzac are/would be to your taste too 

Zola was talented, but Mary Decker was quicker. Not sure those others you mentioned could run for toffee.

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john arran - on 14 Mar 2019
In reply to john arran:

Who's the miserable git with no sense of humour?

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